Tag Archives: calories

High-Intensity Interval Training- What is it?

Lately I’ve been reading up on, and practicing, high-intensity interval training on the treadmill. It’s becoming increasingly popular, and I’m constantly seeing info about it in magazine like Self, Shape, and Women’s Health. What is it, you ask? I’ll explain.

Basically, HIIT involves alternating speeds, so for a short amount of time, you might sprint, and there is a recovery period at a slower pace. This is obviously different from simply running a few miles at a consistent speed. If you know anything about exercise, you know that it is important to confuse your body so it doesn’t get used to the exercise. Research shows that running at a consistent speed is not as effective as switching it up, as HIIT does.

Usually, HIIT workouts can be shorter, and they burn more calories. There are about 6-10 sets of a fast speed, with recovery periods at a lower speed in between. For instance, in Self Magazine’s April 2012 issue, they feature a HIIT workout plan. I’ll break down the first week of the plan as example of what an HIIT workout looks like.

Workout 1: Sprint for 8 seconds at about 8mph, or level 8 on the treadmill. Recover for 12 seconds at level 5. Repeat for 15 minutes.
Workout 2: Sprint at level 8 for 90 seconds, then recover at level 4 for 3 minutes. Repeat 6 times for a total of 27 minutes.
Workout 3: Run 2 miles at level 6.

The workout is actually a 5-week long quest, but you can clearly see a sample of the procedure above. Thanks Self Magazine.

Personally, I like to run at level 6-7 for 5 minutes, and then recover for one minute. Or, I like to run the first mile, recover for 2-3 minutes, then work on running the second mile.

The importance is to change speeds so your body doesn’t get too used to doing the same thing the entire time.

Besides the fact that this approach burns more calories not only during the workout but also after, it may also help improve athletic performance in general.

I also found a great article that explains more about HIIT on Oxygenmag.com. You can read the article here.


I’m not an expert on fitness or anything, but I really enjoy reading about new workouts, and I have reason to believe that this one is very effective. I have been trying it for a few months now, and I am amazed at how much my endurance and speed while running have improved.
It is also great for beginner runners, because of the recovery periods that allow you to catch your breath. Try it, please! I’ve been saying this every day, but summer is rapidly approaching. Do you want to be the loser that couldn’t succeed at improving her body and health, or do you want to triumph? You decide.

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It’s Not Just the Calories

This post is sort of a prelude to my next few posts, because I think it’s important for all of you to know about other things involving food besides calories. So many of us obsess over counting calories, but calories are nothing if you don’t take other factors into consideration, like fat, protein, carbs, and fiber. I’m going to briefly go through each of these in case you don’t understand. Before I do, you should know that 300 calories of pizza and 300 calories of vegetables are not the same. I hope you know this. I really do.

Anyway, when it comes to fat, how much is too much? Is there a such thing as not enough? (Yes). Your fat intake should consist of about 30-35% of your total intake. So if you have 1500 calories a day, 30% of that should be fat. Stay away from saturated and trans fat too. Read the labels. It’s okay to have a little saturated fat, but be careful. Unsaturated fats are often good for you, which are in fish, seafood, nuts, avocado, etc. These are monounsaturated fats, and they have tons of other benefits, from protein to boosting your mood. They also include omega-3 fatty acids. But, I’m not trying to get too complicated here. Just pay attention to the fat content as much as you do the calorie content.

We hear every day that carbs are bad, but it depends on what kinds of carbs you consume. For instance, white bread is a simple carb, which ends up pretty much turning to sugar. Apples, on the other hand are complex carbs, contain fiber, and keep you full longer. When choosing foods with carbs, make sure there is fiber as well. Some foods besides apples include whole grain/wheat bread, many vegetables, fruits, and beans. Fiber is key to proper digestion, and like I said, keeping you full longer. Women should have 20-25 grams a day.

In general, your recommended carbs can be calculated like this: Daily Calories divided by 2. (For me, that’s 1200 divided by 2, so 600). Then divide that number by 4. (600/4=150). I usually try to stay around 100 grams of carbs though, since I’m still trying to lose weight.

Now I’ll go over protein. Depending on what sites you read, they will all tell you different amounts for how much protein you should have. In general, about 15-20% of your calories should come from protein. The process is sort of confusing and I’m terrible at explaining math, so try this link to figure out how much protein you need. It shows you how it depends on your activity level as well, since protein plays a role in muscle growth.

This post is a little long and complicated, but the main point I’m trying to make is that counting calories alone won’t get the job done. You need to pay attention to other things as well. Otherwise, you’ll be a lost cause. Don’t be stupid when it comes to what you put in your body.  For my next few blog posts, I will focus each post entirely on one aspect of nutrition, including carbs, fat, protein, sugar, and fiber. I will go into more detail of each during the next week or so, so stay posted. 🙂

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My Newest Shake Obsession

I tweet a lot about how bad I am at cooking, and how I’m not good at being creative in the kitchen, but I actually am really into anything involving food since I love nutrition so much. I mean, I watch tons of shows on Food Network, and that’s about how far my talents extend. But I’m learning, and I’m getting a little better each day. Lately I’ve been making shakes in the morning, and I figured I’d just quickly share with you all my shake “recipe.”

I didn’t totally make this shake up. I saw it on a Stumble Upon site but I made a variation of it.

Anyway, this is the shake:
3/4ths of a banana
3-7 ice cubes depeding on your preferences for ice
about a half cup to a cup of Vanilla Almond Milk (amazing) I use the brand Almond Breeze
TSP of vanilla
Some peanut butter, but not too much. I use about 1 heaping teaspoon. (You can also use a variation like almond butter if you prefer that).

Blend til you feel like it’s ready. Drink it, obviously.

Today, I added ovaltine and skipped out on the peanut butter, and it was even more delicious. Plus, just the Ovaltine powder is only 40 extra calories, compared to peanut butter which is almost 200. And, Ovaltine has tons of vitamins. I’m actually obsessed with Ovaltine. It’s delicious.

Anyway, that’s my shake. It has all you need for the morning. Some carbs, potassium, protein, good fat, and vitamins. One day, I tried adding blueberries and raspberries to it, and it was kind of gross. So don’t do that.

Without the peanut butter, the whole shake is only around 140 calories. With the peanut butter, about 240. Either way, it’s super filling. So it’s up to you if you want the extra calories, but at least you’re getting some protein. I learned this week that protein can help curb your appetite and you end up eating less throughout the day in general.

So, this is as far as my kitchen abilities have come. Send me some other shake/smoothie recipe ideas and I will try them, write about them, and give you credit for the submission.

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Why I Only Drink Water

When I was younger, I was obsessed with the 99 cent cans of Arizona Iced Tea. I mean, who wasn’t? I’d bring them to the beach every day, and I would finish a whole one in about 30 seconds because I was so thirsty from the 9 million degree sun. They were delicious. But now, you can’t even get me to have 2 sips of an Arizona. While they still taste amazing, I can’t get over how much sugar is in one can.
Before I tell you the amount, you should know that 4 grams of sugar are equal to one teaspoon. So if you put a teaspoon of sugar in your coffee, it is the same as 4 grams, or one sugar packet. So when you put 5 sugar packets in your coffee, it’s equal to 20 grams.

Arizona Lemon Iced tea has 90 calories per serving, and 24 grams of sugar, which is the same as 6 teaspoons. Doesn’t seem too bad, except that there’s actually 3 servings per can, so the whole can is actually 270 calories and 72 grams of sugar, or 18 teaspoons. That’s disgusting. And, I just spent forever even trying to find the servings in one can online. They seem to do a pretty good job of hiding this information.

This obviously isn’t the only drink that contains a ridiculous amount of sugar. A bottle of vitamin water is actually 2.5 servings, and it has 39 grams of sugar, or about 10 teaspons of sugar. Once again, not okay.

Here’s a chart of some other drinks with their sugar content.

We all know sugar can be bad, unless it’s natural, like in an apple. Drinking beverages with added sugar immediately spikes your blood sugar levels, and after it is sent to the bloodstream, any excess levels of glucose is turned into fat. We don’t need extra fat. Also, once your blood sugar levels fall, you’re back to being hungry and tired again. Over time, you could even develop diabetes. It’s not a good situation. Plus, drinks are for hydrating, not for enjoyment.

If that wasn’t enough, you should remember that sugary drinks are basically just empty calories. They don’t make you full. They might taste good, but if you’re going to waste your time eating all that sugar, you should at least consume something that’s actually filling.

I stick to water most of the time. Sometimes I will drink Diet Coke, Vitamin Water Zero, and tea. Otherwise, I stay away from the sugar. Get your sugar from natural places, like fruits and vegetables. We don’t need sugar from processed soft drinks that have only been around for a short period of time. Why do you think so many Americans are overweight? A lot of it has to do with what they drink.

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100 Calorie Miracles

One food I don’t think I could ever give up is bread, but since its high in carbs and certain kinds don’t deliver much nutritional value, I had to find an alternative. There is no option to give up bread entirely. I love it way too much, and I don’t know what I would do without a turkey sandwich at least…90 times a week (I’m kidding, sort of).

My life changed when I discovered Arnold Select Sandwich Thins, because each bun is only 100 calories. That’s a drastic decrease in calories compared to other types of bread, which can be almost 100 calories per slice. These 100 calorie buns taste amazing too. I don’t know what it is about them, but they are totally a legitimate substitute for regular bread.

And, there are a variety of kinds, such as whole wheat, whole grain white, multi-grain, and seedless rye. I’m on their site now, and they even have mini rolls at 50 calories each, and Whole Wheat Fill ‘Em rolls that are perfect for subs. I don’t know about any of you, but this makes me really really happy.

The rolls are also only one gram of fat and contain 5 grams of fiber. We need fiber. It keeps us full longer and speeds up our metabolism. White bread doesn’t contain fiber, and although regular whole wheat and multi-grain do, they obviously have more calories. Oh, and the sandwich thins have less carbs. One slice of regular wheat bread has about 18-22 grams of carbs, while this entire 100 calorie bun only has 22. So it’s basically half the amount of carbs. This is a miracle.

As I sit here and write about how much I love food, I should also mention that these buns don’t get as soggy as regular bread, and they toast well. I’m in love with them. And I’m out, so I definitely need to go shopping today and get more. There’s nothing like some mustard and turkey on these buns. Or, for breakfast, you can put egg whites on them. It’s pretty much perfect. You can also use them for turkey and veggie burgers. The possibilities are endless.

These also come in other brands. I just recently saw them from Pepperidge Farm, and also in the store brand form. So far, I’ve only tried Arnold. And I have to say they’re the best, because they were the first to come up with the idea, I think. I’m not being paid or anything to advertise for them. I just really love them.

Also, since I’m terrible at preparing food, I would recommend going to the Arnold Site. They have tons of other recipe ideas.
I will be hopefully posting more today, so stay tuned.

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Don’t Get Fat From Alcohol

I think it’s safe to say that most of us enjoy drinking a ridiculous amount once in a while, or if you’re like some of us, multiple times a week. At this point in my life, I decided it’s totally acceptable because I’m in college and I’m still skinny. Don’t let drinking bring you down, or let the numbers on the scale go up. If you’re careful about what you drink, it can make a huge difference.

If you’re underage and you’re still hitting up keg parties, you probably shouldn’t be the girl who refuses to leave the keg all night in fear that it will tap. Sure, it’s fine to have beer sometimes, but you can still be smart while you’re on the path to blacking out. One thing I always did when I used to go to parties was bring a water bottle of vodka with water and Crystal Light. It will get you drunker, and you won’t have a beer gut that you can see through that tight dress you’re wearing halfway through the night. Think of this. An average regular beer has about 150 calories, and an average light beer has about 110. However, a vodka Crystal Light Concoction has way less. One ounce of 80 proof vodka is 64 calories, and water and Crystal Light have none. So you can pour in the vodka, maybe two or three shots worth (or five), and your drink will be anywhere from 120-350 calories, depending on the amount of vodka. Either way, it’s way less than drinking beer all night, and you don’t have to worry about spilling your cup because your vodka creation will be safely inside a water bottle. The best part? You can screw the cap on the bottle and dance the night away without spilling.

Stay away from the keg.

If you’re actually over the age of 21 and are allowed in the bar, you need to pay attention to what you order. This can save hundreds of calories if you do it right.

If you’re going for beer, the obvious solution is to choose the light beer. Some of the lightest beers include Budweiser Select 55, MGD 64, Michelob Ultra, Natural Light (gross), Amstel Light, and Miller Light. They may not taste as great, but I’m pretty sure your goal here is to get drunk and save calories, not savor the flavor of beer.

When it comes to cocktails, make sure to choose diet soda over regular soda. Club soda and Diet Coke are my personal favorites. If club soda is too plain for you, ask for a splash of cranberry or orange juice. And don’t forget the limes!
Drinking diet soda over regular soda could save you about 100 calories per drink. Have four drinks, and you pretty much just saved half a days worth of calories. Diet soda is better anyway because it doesn’t leave that disgusting sugary film on your teeth like regular soda does. You don’t want that.

Some of the worst cocktails you can possibly order are Long Island Iced Teas, Margaritas, Pina Coladas, White Russians, and Mudslides. And, just like you should stay away from creamy sauces during the day, stay away from creamy alcohol. You don’t need all that fat and heaviness during a night of drinking.

You can make this an awesome night to remember (or forget) and you will feel less guilty in the morning when you realize you saved hundreds of calories.

Here are some links that will help you further decide what drinks to make or order:

Beer Info- http://www.beertutor.com/beers/index.php?t=lowest_cal

Calories in Drinks- http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/collegestudents/calculator/alcoholcalc.aspx

More Calories in Drinks- http://www.the-alcoholism-guide.org/alcohol-calorie-chart.html

Low Calorie Cocktails- http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/low-calorie-cocktails

And here’s a picture of a mojito just because I love Mojitos.

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Easy Ways to Measure Portion Sizes

If you’re like me, you probably have a calorie tracking app on your phone, and sometimes it can be hard to decide exactly what portion size you had to eat of something. How are we supposed to know if something is one ounce, twenty ounces, a cup, or a gallon? Luckily I was taught an easy way to estimate portion sizes using your hands, thanks to my nutrition teacher last year. The pictures below will explain.

A tablespoon

A half cup

A cup

3 ounces

8 ounces

Okay, so those aren’t the cutest pictures, and the food on those plates make me never want to eat again, but they do a good job of illustrating the concept. I know all of our hands aren’t the same size, (I have baby hands) but it’s still a good way to be a little more accurate when tracking calories. Now, you can’t cheat and say you had three ounces of that steak when you really had 9. Don’t lie to yourself. It will only hurt you more.

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Burning calories doesn’t end in the gym

For busy people like myself, there are often days where I simply do not have time to work out, especially in the summer, when my university gym closes at 7pm. And especially when I make every excuse under the sun to not work out, even if I have ten hours of time to kill. However, there are still ways to burn calories throughout the day at home and at work, and I actually try my best to follow a lot of these tips.

1. Park far away …It’s not a race to get the closest spot. Honestly, it doesn’t kill you to walk a little bit, even if it’s cold. Get over it. There are people who don’t even own cars, and they walk miles to work every day. I’ve seen them before. Park far away and walk. It won’t hurt you, I promise. Even a few extra feet a day is better than nothing. And, sometimes, we spend more time looking for a close spot than we would just walking a further distance, so chances are, you won’t spend any extra time in the parking lot. Just do it.

2. Depending on your job, there are a number of things you can do to avoid being sedentary all day. Maybe you have your own office, where you can break out into a set of jumping jacks for a few minutes. Why not? No one will think you’re crazy or anything. Or maybe your job requires physical labor. In that case, you are probably burning a decent amount of calories, even if you are just standing around for hours on end. It’s better than cuddling with 30 pillows and 3 comforters in your bed all day.Actually, it’s not, but whatever.  If you have a lunch break, skip the free pizza or the delivery spot that makes delicious chicken parm subs. (Yes, in New Jersey, it’s a sub, which means it’s the only way to say it.) Order a salad, or pack your lunch. It takes less than 5 minutes to pack your lunch the night before, so stop being lazy. If you work in a nice area, maybe you can even venture outside and talk a walk on your break. I work on the beach, so once in a while I’ll walk down to it to kill some time.

3. Put extra effort into any household chores. You probably need to catch up on them anyway. Right now there’s a ridiculous pile of clean laundry on my window seat, just waiting to be folded, but naturally I’m in my bed typing this instead. However, I do love some cleaning to make me feel like I’m not a complete waste of life. Not only will you be a contributing member to your household, but you may actually burn a few calories and feel slightly productive. It’s no 5k run, but like I said, it’s better than nothing.

4. Work out during commercials. I am a huge fan of doing planks during commercials, since they work out multiple parts of your body, and the commercial break allows for just enough time to do them. Of course, if you have time to watch television, you should probably have time to work out too. However, some days are just too long for that to be accomplished. And we can’t miss one episode of those 15 different television shows we follow religiously. Those are a priority, right? Anyway, you can definitely get in a quick ab workout during the commercials. A half hour program has about 6 minutes of commercials, and an hour-long program has 12. I’m a comm major, so I know random facts like that.

5. Leave extra gym clothes and shoes in the car, just in case you do have some time throughout the day. I do this, and they usually don’t leave my car, but there are those surprise moments where I do have some extra time for a spontaneous trip to the gym. The clothes are one step closer to getting in the gym than they would be in your dresser drawer, so it can’t hurt to try it.

There are obviously many more options that I haven’t included, but the main point of this post is to remind you not to be lazy, and to stop making excuses. Do everything with your whole heart. If you’re dieting, make an extra effort to burn calories in every activity you do. There really are no excuses.

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