Incorporating Fiber in Your Diet in Inventive and Fun Ways

Fiber is a carbohydrate. Over the last several decades, carbs experienced unfair protest and aversion. As with most food groups, there exist both good and bad carbohydrates. Fiber represents the beneficial form of the food group, and dieters should not avoid it.

Plants are home to fiber. A diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains is fiber-rich. The primary benefit of a fiber-rich diet is glycemic control, or the slowing of glucose production after meals.

How much fiber do you consume every day? If you are like other Americans, you are not getting enough fiber. Therefore, try getting a little creative in your meal planning. There are several ways to include more fiber in your diet with little effort.

Lentils and Legumes 

Lentils and legumes are excellent plant foods. Grouped with peas and beans, these foods are high in protein and fiber. Additionally, they contain various nutrients, such as:

  • Iron 
  • Potassium 
  • Folate 
  • Phosphorus

As vegetables are high in fiber and protein and low in fat, they can act as a substitute for meat, like in a black bean burger. Additionally, it is nothing to toss some lentils and legumes into a salad, soup, dip, or egg dish.

Flour Alternatives 

White flour is a staple in baking, but it is often stripped of any nutritional value. Many grocery chains carry white flour alternatives, including:

  • Almond flour 
  • Oat flour 
  • Brown rice flour 
  • Chickpea flour 
  • Whole grain flour 
  • Coconut flour

While there are white flour alternatives, understand they are not equal substitutes. If you want to use healthy, fiber-rich flour, find recipes for the alternatives.

Nuts and Seeds 

Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of fiber, and they are easy to add to recipes and meals. You can add chopped nuts to cereals or salads. Additionally, you can use almonds, cashews, or other nuts to create a coating for chicken or other proteins. You can also find various seed and nut butter for healthier spreads or add the items to smoothies and yogurts.

Starches 

Many people avoid starches, especially if they have diabetes. Rice, pasta, cereal, and bread can be dangerous for some people. Still, there are healthier starches to ensure adequate fiber intake, including:

  • Bulgur 
  • Barley 
  • Oats 
  • Quinoa 
  • Teff 
  • Wild rice 
  • Farro 
  • Millet

Snacks

What are your go-to snacks? Many people opt for crackers, sweets, or potato chips when on the go. Unfortunately, conventional snacks are often overly processed and lack nutritional merit.

If you want to up your fiber intake, consider purchasing more natural foods. Some healthy and fiber-rich options include:

  • Nuts 
  • Seeds 
  • Veggies and dip 

Pasta Swaps

Many people love pasta. Unfortunately, traditional kinds of pasta are not healthy carbs. For the real pasta lover, consider trying pasta made from whole grain. There are other more unique pastas you can try, including those made from black beans, lentils, chickpeas, or brown rice.

Including more fiber in your diet requires a new understanding of carbohydrates. Not all carbs are equal. However, fiber is essential and necessary to every diet. Thankfully, there are several inventive and fun ways to incorporate the essential nutrient.

Wine and Health: Settling the Debate

Many people enjoy a glass of wine after a long day's work. While some people may only partake a few times per week, others enjoy one glass of red wine every day.

Some wine enthusiasts claim they only drink it because of the taste, but others claim they drink it for their health. It is no secret that some research suggests specific wines have health benefits. However, the question is whether those benefits outweigh the risks associated with alcohol consumption and whether wine is the best and only way to achieve specified benefits.

Wine Health Benefits: The Long and Short of It

A glass of red wine is not a caloric hit to the diet; it doesn't pack a sugar punch either. However, all wine is not created equal. The wines that pack the most significant health benefits in a glass are those made with the right ingredients, primarily the right grapes.

Pinot Noir, made from Pinot grapes, is among the healthiest wines. The grapes have a thin skin, resulting in low tannins and high levels of resveratrol, the beneficial compound in wine. Still, experts recommend moderation when consuming alcohol of any kind.

Alcohol consumption, specifically overconsumption, can result in higher risks of cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. Additionally, drinking too much alcohol can lead to addiction and dependence.

The CDC suggests that moderate drinking equates to fewer than two drinks per day for men and fewer than one drink per day for women. Nutritionists and dieticians also recommend that you do not start drinking in the first place.

Ultimately, while wine might offer some health benefits, it is not the only way to achieve them. A healthy diet and routine exercise are and always will be the best way to maintain health.

Healthy Wine Myths and Their Beginnings

Wine can support heart health and reduce the risks of dementia. However, the benefits of the beverage do not make it healthy. Wine lacks micro and macronutrients, and it maintains a proven track record of adverse biological effects. However, the drink contains bioactive compounds with health benefits.

Primarily, wine contains antioxidants, such as polyphenols. Polyphenols are found in grape skin and have cardioprotective benefits, like improving good cholesterol or lowering blood pressure. The association between antioxidants and wine created the rumor of wine being a healthy drink, but that is not exactly true.

Moderation Is Key to Everything

Wine is an alcoholic beverage. Alcohol can lead to addiction and other well-documented health problems. Still, in moderation, wine can provide some health benefits. However, it is necessary to mention any health benefits you can get from drinking wine; you can also get through exercise and adopting healthier dietary habits.

You do not have to justify drinking wine; it tastes good, and you're an adult. However, if you are drinking wine or considering drinking it purely for health benefits, don't. There are healthier and, honestly, less risky ways to obtain antioxidants and any other perceived value from drinking. Focusing on a healthy diet and adopting an exercise routine is vital to sustained health more than drinking wine.

The 5 Easiest Ways To Strength Train and Diet To Keep Muscle Mass as You Age

As people age, one of the things they tend to find most concerning is the loss of strength and mobility. While some muscular decline is natural and expected, too much muscle loss can lead to significant problems, especially relating to independence.

Thankfully, there are ways to maintain and promote muscle mass. However, it should be stressed that some muscle loss is natural and unavoidable. The key is maintaining a healthy lifestyle, using both diet and exercise to promote mobility and muscle development.

1. Start Resistance Training

Resistance training is among the better fitness routines for older individuals. This style of strength training amounts to less risk of injury, and with varying difficulties, the equipment meets users where they currently are physically.

For a fitness routine to effectively build muscle, you need to commit to it and challenge yourself during it. Older individuals should aim for two to three sessions per week for a minimum of 30 minutes each. You should also consult with your physician before starting any new fitness regimen.

2. Walk

Have you ever been driving down the street and witnessed someone who looks like they are running but at a walking pace? People often undervalue the benefits of simply walking.

Pretending to run or convincing yourself you are running can stress your system because your brain reacts to what it thinks your body is doing. Walking can be just as beneficial as running when done right.

Not only will frequent walks increase your mobility, but they can also speed up recovery time and build and maintain muscle mass. Also, you do not have to take one long walk to experience the benefits; you can break your 30-minute exercise allotment down into ten-minute increments, allowing for multiple breaks throughout the day.

3. Eat Protein

Beyond exercising, you will also need to focus on your diet. Protein is one of the best things you can consume to improve muscle mass.

The body needs amino acids to build muscle, and it converts or breaks down protein-rich foods into these necessary compounds. You can have a diverse diet when focusing on protein. Some popular protein-rich options include:

  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Lean red meat
  • Beans
  • Yogurt

4. Increase Omega-3 Fatty Acids

As people age, they tend to have more problems with inflammation. Unfortunately, inflammation can cause muscles to break down.

To reduce the risk of muscle loss because of inflammation, you will want to include anti-inflammatories in your diet. The most potent anti-inflammatories come from omega-3 fatty acids.

You can take omega-3 supplements, but it is best to get them from a food source. While walnuts and flaxseeds contain these essential nutrients, fatty fish like salmon is the best source.

5. Take a Vitamin D Supplement

People under the age of 60 can usually get enough vitamin D from sun exposure. Unfortunately, for people over 60, it takes approximately four times longer to receive the vitamin from the sun.

Since vitamin D is vital to muscle protein synthesis, it is necessary to find another way to ingest the vitamin. The best way to maintain vitamin D levels is with a supplement. However, before you start any supplements, talk to your doctor.

There are many ways to maintain muscle mass and promote strength as you age. However, you must get comfortable with some loss.

What tips or techniques do you have for older people looking to build or maintain muscle and mobility?

The Fitness and Diet Routine of Jennifer Lopez: Motivation for Everyone, Especially Mature Women

Jennifer Lopez is an icon and a natural beauty. It is hard to believe that this mother of two is 52 years old and still rocking a six-pack. How does she find the time to balance her unbelievably busy schedule with exercise and a healthy diet when most people struggle to do one or the other? If you ask her and her trainers, it is a matter of dedication and perseverance — it also doesn’t hurt having access to some of the best personal trainers in the business.

Still, getting healthy and fit is attainable, but it requires discipline. Jennifer's routine and diet plan is something worth examining, but you also need to remember her routine is not your routine. It is an advanced fitness and health regimen designed for a world-class performer and entertainer. Do not beat yourself up if you find her routine unrealistic for your life and current fitness level.

Jennifer’s Exercise Routine

When it comes to exercise, J. Lo works out four to five days per week. Each workout day incorporates about an hour of her time, and it focuses on different body parts each session.

For session one, J. Lo might focus on abs. She’ll perform three sets of a combination of ab workouts:

  • 50 Rope crunches

  • 50 Hanging ab raises

  • 50 incline sit-ups with a 45-pound plate

In sets two and three, J. Lo performs fewer reps. Set two includes 35 reps and set three is 21.

Session two will include several lower body exercises. Some of the performers favorite go-to exercises include:

  • Supported lunges

  • Weighted leg presses

  • Single dumbbell sumo squats

  • Weighted hip thrusts into calf raises

  • Single leg extensions into weighted leg curls

  • Platypus walk

Finally, session three focuses on arms. Unfortunately, there is not much information on her arm workout, but her trainer has explained that Spiderman push-ups have been a part of her routine in the past.

J. Lo’s Diet

While J. Lo’s workout routine might seem overwhelming, her diet is also fairly strict. Her diet is built on high protein and fresh, whole foods. Her diet is nutrient-dense and does not leave a lot of room for treats. However, she does allow herself a cheat day once per week.

There are times when the star’s diet is hyper-regimented. When she is being super strict, she does not allow herself to eat sugar. She also avoids caffeine and alcohol, choosing to drink lots and lots of water instead.

Should You Try Jennifer Lopez’s Diet?

While everyone should strive to be as committed to health and fitness as J. Lo, her specific routine is not for everyone. If you are just starting your fitness journey, focus on the basics before diving into rigorous and demanding exercises.

One of the problems with jumping right into a celebrity routine is that you might not be ready for such a commitment, which can be counterproductive. Part of getting fit and staying healthy is staying motivated. If you try to join a routine that is too advanced, you might become discouraged.

Instead of focusing on celebrity routines, consider focusing on the basics of nutrition and making small life changes. By building habits over time, you are more likely to stay committed to healthy changes.

With all that said, if you feel up to a challenge and your doctor believes it is safe, go ahead and give J. Lo’s routine a shot. Keep in mind that J. Lo’s body is a result of years of dedication, and it will take time for you to see positive results from a similar workout.

What do you think? Will you give Jennifer Lopez’s routine a try, or will you start with something more manageable? Leave a comment and keep the conversation going.

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Brush Your Teeth Right After Breakfast

Hopefully, brushing your teeth is a staple of your morning and bedtime routines. (If it's not; it's past time to start!) Brushing at least twice a day like this is crucial for both your oral health and your overall health. While getting into a brushing routine that includes brushing first thing in the morning and last thing before lights out is great, it’s time to stop brushing your teeth right after breakfast. Here are three reasons why:

1. Your Morning Breath Is Trying To Tell You Something

Morning breath — or “dragon breath,” as my grandkids like to call it — isn’t just the side effect of a dry mouth. It’s due to the massive amount of bacteria that has quietly multiplied in your mouth overnight. In other words, your mouth is kind of gross when you first wake up and a literal breeding ground for tooth decay.

As such, most dental health experts recommend brushing your teeth before breakfast, first thing when you wake up. You might think of it like hitting the “reset” button on your mouth.

2. Your Mouth Needs Saliva, STAT

Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Why in the world is more spit a good thing?” Three reasons:

  1. It eliminates harmful bacteria roaming around your mouth. After multiplying all night long, they’re running wild by sunrise.

  2. It helps breaks down what you eat. This takes stress off your teeth and jaws.

  3. Saliva plays a pivotal role in protecting your teeth by re-mineralizing your enamel.

Who knew spit was so essential to your health?

3. Many Breakfast Foods Are Acidic

If you must brush your teeth after breakfast, the American Dental Association strongly suggests that you wait an hour before doing the deed. The reason for this can be found on your breakfast table: Several breakfast staples, including coffee, sugary cereal, toast, citrus fruits and many juices are acidic. Brush your teeth too soon after the most important meal of the day, and you’re just spreading that acid around your mouth, helping it weaken your teeth and stripping off your tooth enamel with your very own toothbrush.

Unsurprisingly, this is terrible for your smile. It not only erodes your tooth enamel and damages your gums, but it also stops your saliva from beefing up your teeth’s natural defenses. Your teeth enamel is the hardest substance in your body, but even it can’t stand up to the potent combination of acid and bristles. Over time, enamel loss can lead to a host of undesirable side effects:

  • Yellow teeth

  • Higher risk of cavities

  • Increased tooth sensitivity when consuming hot, cold or super-sweet foods and drinks

  • Abscesses

  • Tooth loss

Tooth erosion isn’t reversible, either. Once that enamel is gone, it’s gone for good. Depending on how far things progress, you may need fillings, crowns, veneers and even a root canal or two to maintain your smile. While you wait to brush, drink plenty of water or pop a piece of sugar-free gum into your mouth to start safely precleaning your chompers.

Why Not Just Skip Breakfast?

This isn’t a healthy alternative to smart brushing. Your body needs those morning nutrients to propel you through your day. Instead of skipping breakfast all together, enjoy acidic foods in moderation and chow down on plenty of calcium-rich, non-acidic fare such as yogurt and chia seeds.

While we’re at it, it’s not smart to skip brushing your teeth, either. While brushing after breakfast is far from ideal, it’s better than leaving your toothbrush in the medicine cabinet until bedtime.

If you’ve been brushing your teeth right after breakfast for years — decades even — it can be hard to revamp your morning routine, but it’s worth it. Daily brushing right after your morning coffee or OJ can do more harm them good. Keep your winning smile — and your original teeth — by waiting an hour after eating breakfast to fire up your electric toothbrush.

What Your Poop Is Trying To Tell You

There’s virtually no way to have a conversation about poop that isn’t awkward, embarrassing or downright difficult. We all go, but most people — most adults, that is — don’t like to talk about it. The thing is, your poop can offer a wealth useful information about your health.

What the Color of Your Poop Means

If your stool is brown, that’s a good thing. If it’s brown with just a hint of green, that’s a sign that all is well, too. If your poop scoots further along the spectrum, though, it may denote trouble.

Green

Green poop isn’t necessarily worrisome, but it does mean that food is zipping through your digestive system too quickly. Green stool may also be the result of eating certain foods, especially dark, leafy greens that are high in chlorophyll, such as spinach and kale.

Yellow

If your stool is yellow, it may mean its fat content is too high. It could also be symptomatic of celiac disease or an inability to absorb nutrients properly.

White

Poop that’s white, pale or resembles clay in color is often the sign of a blocked bile duct.

Black

Things start getting more serious if your stool is black in color. While it could just be the result of iron supplements or eating black licorice, it could also point to a bleed in the upper part of your intestinal tract.

Red

Like black stool, red stool may indicate bleeding, only this time it originates from the lower intestine. It could also mean hemorrhoids or simply that you dined on beets, Gatorade or other red food and drink recently.

What the Shape of Your Poop Means

Your stool’s shape is just as revealing as its color, if not more so. In fact, it’s so informative that there’s a scientific scale for it called the Bristol Stool Scale. It identifies seven stool types:

Type 1: Hard Pellets

Small, hard pellets that are difficult to pass mean you’re probably constipated, but it should pass soon (no pun intended.) If you’re still blocked up after several days, however, it's important that you talk to your doctor.

Type 2: Lumpy Logs

This also means you’re constipated. Once again, your discomfort shouldn’t last long, but you can help speed things up by snacking on fiber-rich foods and drinking plenty of water.

Type 3: Cracked Logs

Despite the unappealing description, this is one of the two types of “perfect” poop you want. It should be soft, easy to pass and roughly 2 inches long.

Type 4: Smooth Logs

Stool that is easy to eliminate and resembles a snake or a hot dog is also normal.

Type 5: Soft Pellets

Small, soft pellets that are quick and painless to pass often suggest you need to add more fiber to your diet.

Type 6: Mushy Blobs

If your stool is super-soft and disjointed with jagged edges, it usually means mild diarrhea. Be sure to hydrate to replace lost fluids.

Type 7: Watery Nightmare

You have the runs, a.k.a. diarrhea. This happens when stool races through your digestive tract so rapidly that it never has the chance to form into a solid.

What It Means If Your Stool Floats

Stool that floats typically means one of two things: First, it may mean that it’s high in gas or water content, making it light enough to bob on the surface. Second, it could suggest that your body’s not absorbing nutrients well. Malabsorption like this is usually accompanied by constipation.

If watching your preschool grandchildren play a 14-hour soccer game sounds preferable to talking to your doctor about your bowel movements, you’re not alone. You also need to steel your nerves and have that talk. Stool that’s suspect is almost always trying to tell you something important about your health, and having a tête-à-tête about poop is just another part of the job for your physician.

Is Dairy Really the Best Way To Get Calcium?

Dairy has gone through a lot of marketing changes over the years. At one point milk was touted in commercials as the solution for everything from achieving smooth skin to fending of bullies (yes, really!) Remember the old slogan “Milk: It Does a Body Good” from the 1980s? Back then, milk could do no wrong.

But more recently, dairy products have started to get a bad reputation. Not long ago, dairy was blamed for a wide variety of problems, including acne, weight gain, digestion issues and more. So which is it? Is dairy a caped crusader or a masked foe? The answer is that it’s likely somewhere in between.

Though milk probably isn’t as miraculous as the 1980s led us to believe, it’s also not as bad as some modern activists try to convince us it is. One of milk’s primary health claims is that it strengthens bones due to its calcium content. While it’s true that dairy products contain calcium, are they really the best source of this important component of bone health? Surprisingly, the answer is no! Here are several foods that contain more calcium than a glass of milk (which contains about 300 mg of calcium).

Almonds

Who doesn’t love to snack on almonds? I know I do! I feel even better about it now that I know ¾ cup of almonds contains 320 mg of calcium. So if you’re trying to get more of this important nutrient in your diet, feel free to enjoy a serving of almonds each day. Just don’t eat too much, since these tasty little nuts are also high in calories and can derail your weight loss goals if you aren’t careful.

Kale

If you weren’t already convinced that kale is a superfood you should consume regularly, consider the fact that it’s packed with calcium. Though it can be hard to consume sufficient kale when it’s raw, cooking it makes it easier to eat more. Two cups of cooked or sauteed kale will provide your body with 359 mg of calcium.

Bok Choy

If you haven’t tried bok choy yet, you’re missing out! This delicious Chinese cabbage is a little reminiscent of broccoli in flavor, but it looks more like lettuce. Just two cups of this vegetable can provide you with 316 mg of calcium. Try chopping it up and adding it to salads or stir-fries.

Tofu

Like it or hate it, tofu is a great source of calcium. But you have to find the type of tofu that’s made with calcium sulfate. Extra-firm or firm tofu provides up to 300 mg of calcium per 6-ounce serving. The firmer the tofu, the more calcium it typically contains.

Calcium-Fortified Orange Juice

It’s usually best to cut back on fruit juices because they contain a lot of sugar and calories. But if you feel the need to indulge occasionally, choose orange juice that’s fortified with calcium. An 8-ounce glass of calcium-fortified orange juice can give you approximately 350 mg of calcium. It contains other healthy nutrients, too!

Canned Salmon (With Bones)

Before you cringe at the thought of eating salmon bones, hold on for just a minute! The bones in canned salmon are very difficult to detect because they’ve been softened by sitting in a moist can. The bones themselves are packed with calcium and are great for your body. Try eating canned salmon on top of a green salad, in rice bowls, or on top of pasta. It’s an effective and tasty way to improve your daily calcium consumption.

What do you think of this list of calcium-rich foods? If you don’t like dairy or are lactose intolerant, these are all great alternative foods to help you meet your daily calcium intake needs.

The Problem With Beach Body Diets and the Unrealistic Beauty Ideal

People commit to losing weight fast every spring and summer using beach body diet plans — not to be confused with specific brands. Consequently, you see many people choosing unhealthy fad diets in the hopes of looking good in a bathing suit.

The Nagging and Unrealistic Pursuit of Ideal Beauty

Before diving into the consequences and problems with fad dieting, it is necessary to discuss the idea of beauty. As women age, they must come to terms with their bodies changing and no longer looking like bikini-clad supermodels. In all honesty, how many women can even live up to those male- and industry-driven preferences even when in their 20s and 30s?

At some point in nearly every woman’s life, she acknowledges a discrepancy between actual and perceived beauty. Natural beauty is attainable, and it is about making your best life through healthy physical, dietary, and mental decisions. Perceived beauty is unrealistic and can encourage negative stigmas and behaviors, including eating disorders and body shaming. Unrealistic expectations and the pressure to be viewed as attractive in a magazine or Hollywood sort of way are the primary motivation behind rapid weight loss and fad diets.

While women typically lead the charge in the beauty debate, men are also affected. The pressure to present outward attractiveness regardless of the methods used to achieve it is a societal problem. People need to take to heart the idea that beauty is more than a number on a scale or flawless complexion; it is confidence and self-respect.

The Unsustainable Fads of Beach Body Diets

Beach body diets are typically focused on restriction and elimination. Dieters are expected to reduce their calories, typically beyond healthy limits, and eliminate specific foods or food groups. Through caloric disparity and nutritional sacrifice, weight loss is inevitable, and when compounded with aerobic routines, it is easy to make promises.

Unfortunately, these fad diets are not sustainable, and their effects are not long-lasting. If a person commits to the four weeks or another timeframe, they will lose weight. However, if they do nothing to alter their relationship with food and exercise, the pounds will return, and in some instances, more than before.

Fad diets tend to wreak havoc on your metabolism, and consequently, it may never return to normal. Instead of choosing a fad for rapid weight loss, select a sustainable diet, focusing on nutrition and healthy activity. True, you may not lose at the same pace as other fad diets, but you will lose healthily and sustainably, resulting in a lifestyle change rather than a temporary fix.

Real Change Starts With Realistic Objectives

If you are ready to lose weight and get fit, restrictive diets and fads are counterproductive. They require too much sacrifice too quickly, leading to motivational issues and potential feelings of inadequacy.

Real change starts with minor adjustments, like eating more vegetables or drinking less soda. You want to build healthy habits. Before starting any new diet, take your time to prepare for the change, allowing you to build confidence in your decision.

What is your experience with fad diets? Leave a comment and let the community know what worked for you and what didn’t. Do you think fad diets are helpful tools in permanent weight loss or sustained weight management?

5 Healthy Snacks Everyone Can Enjoy

Hanger is real, and it is a problem. However, rather than letting your worst angels take advantage of you when you feel ravenous, it is better to save your family and have a snack.

While most people turn to homemade snacks without the preservatives and added chemical ingredients, you will not always have time to make a snack from scratch, which means you will need some store-bought options mixed with handmade selections.

Finding Healthy Options

When looking for healthy snacks, you will still need to focus on ingredients, even if you resort to store-bought selections. There are several things you will want to keep an eye out for, including:

  • Added Sugars
  • Calories per serving
  • Low-nutrient value

When selecting your snacks, look for items high in protein and fiber. Both items ensure the snack is filling, especially when several grams of each are included. Additionally, you want your snacks to have whole grains and complex carbohydrates, which are satiating and provide energy.

Selecting the Best Snack Options

When it comes to healthy snacks, you will receive a decent balance of nutritional balance and satiation. There are at least four healthy snack options for you and your family to enjoy.

1. Fruit

One of the best snacks for any diet is fruit. Fruit packs a powerful nutritional punch, and it often pairs well with grains or nut butter. For example, snacking on apples or bananas with a bit of peanut butter or almond butter provides a well-rounded and filling snack. Or, you can try upping your intake of antioxidants by choosing berries and pairing those with almonds.

2. Granola Bars

Not all granola bars are created equal. When looking for options at the grocery store, be sure to read the ingredients and nutrition label. Many companies sell granola snacks under the guise of healthy food, but when you review the labels, the items are swimming in added sugar and preservatives.

Some of the best commercial granola bar options include brands like Kashi, KIND, and RXBar. However, if you would rather make your own, there are plenty of recipes online — peanut butter granola bars are delicious.

3. Yogurt and Granola

An excellent combination snack, yogurt and granola is often reserved as breakfast food, but why? It is a readily available mix that you can grab from the fridge at a moment's notice. Additionally, it is a protein-powerhouse.

As with most snacks, however, you want to be careful when buying yogurt, watching the labels for added sugars. If you don't mind a bit of extra work, you can look for plain yogurt and add your own sweetness using maple syrup or honey.

If you are interested in making your own granola, you can, again, look online. There are so many health-conscious people out there putting up healthy granola recipes, some using crockpots and other more traditional or quick methods.

4. Roasted Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a high-protein snack on their own, but roasting these tiny beans creates a crispy, crunchy, addictive delight. While you can roast your own chickpeas, there are many brands, like the Good Bean, that sell crunchy chickpeas in a variety of flavors.

The beauty of this snack is one serving is equivalent to the fiber intake of two cups of broccoli, the folate intake of three cups of spinach, and equal to the protein of a serving of almonds — all that nutritional power in an on-the-go snack.

Do you have a favorite healthy snack? Leave a comment below explaining your answer.

Do Legumes Help With Weight Loss?

Legumes (pronounced “leh-gyoomz”) are the seeds or fruits of a certain type of plant family called Fabaceae. The legume family includes lentils, peas, peanuts and beans. Legumes have a very rich nutritional profile and they are full of protein and healthy fibers. They also contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that are good for the body and can help you maintain a healthy weight.

I’ve always liked the way legumes taste and the way they keep me satiated for long periods. But I had no idea they could help me lose weight until recently. But like many good things in life, there is some controversy surrounding legumes. I’ll go over that information and why I think it isn’t a big deal, and I’ll also show you the astonishing information I learned about using legumes as a weight-loss tool.  

Why Do Legumes Have a Bad Reputation?

There are a couple of things people don’t like about legumes. First, they contain phytic acid (we’ll talk about why that matters in a minute. Second, they tend to cause intestinal distress in people who aren’t used to eating them.

Though legumes have an exceptional nutritional profile, that profile is somewhat negated by certain antinutrients. Legumes contain phytic acid, which can inhibit optimal absorption of certain minerals (such as calcium, zinc and iron). But phytic acid is not unique to legumes. In fact, it’s found in all edible plant seeds.

Generally, the only people who need to worry about the phytic acid content in legumes are those who eat little o no meat. This is because people who eat meat get sufficient minerals to offset the potential negative impacts of phytic acid from legume consumption.

Additionally, you can reduce the phytic acid content of the legumes you consume by sprouting them, soaking them or fermenting them. Incidentally, these preparation methods can also help you avoid the intestinal discomfort associated with legume consumption.

How Can Legumes Help With Weight Loss?

Now that we’ve gotten the controversial aspect of legume consumption out of the way, let’s dive right into what we really want to know: how do legumes assist with weight loss? It turns out they help in multiple ways, including:

  • Helping you feel full longer
  • Curbing cravings
  • Lowering blood sugar

As I mentioned earlier, legumes are full of protein and fiber. Both are great for helping you feel full longer so you don’t spend so much time snacking. They also help curb cravings so you have an easier time sticking to a healthy diet.

Finally, legumes can help you avoid spikes in blood sugar. Since legumes are low on the glycemic index, they do not raise blood sugars rapidly as white flour and breads do. Low-glycemic foods are associated with improved weight loss.  

How To Enjoy Legumes

Now that you know how important legumes can be on your weight-loss journey, it’s time to talk about how to enjoy them. Just remember that before using any of these methods, soak your legumes to lower their phytic acid content.

  • Add legumes to soups, casseroles and stews
  • Add cooked beans to your burgers and/or meatballs
  • Puree beans and seeds to use as vegetable dips
  • Sprinkle a few black beans, lentils or chickpeas onto a fresh green salad

These are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy legumes in my daily diet. Give them each a try to see which option you prefer. You can also sprout your legumes to enjoy maximum nutritional benefits. It’s pretty easy to find sprouting guidelines online for different types of legumes. Remember to also exercise regularly, drink plenty of water, and consume other healthy foods to get the greatest weight-loss benefits from your legume consumption.