Nutrition Bars: The Good, The Bad, And The Crunchy

There are several different nutrition bars on the market today and they go by many names such as “energy bar”, “protein bar”, or “meal replacement bar.”

Nutrition bars are larger in weight than snack bars (such as granola) or candy bars (such as chocolate) and typically have more protein. However, some “fiber bars” contain very little protein because that is not their focus.

Depending on what you are looking for and what your dietary needs are, find the bar that is right for you.

If you need a quick 100 calories to hold you over before dinner that’s in an hour, a snack bar would be your best choice. It has fewer calories and very little protein so you know you will still be hungry for dinner. Watch out for the added sugar!

If you are working all day and realize you won’t have time for lunch, grab a meal replacement bar that is more balanced to get you through the day.

If you have been working all day and on you’re way to the gym, grab an energy bar to get you through your workout.

If you need a balanced snack between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner, a protein bar might be a good choice for that situation, but watch out for added sugar!

Here is a list of good nutrition bars to choose from:

·      Energy bars– Balance Bar (Cookie Dough), Clif Bar Energy (White Choc. Macadamia Nut), Power Bar Performance Energy (Choc. Peanut Butter)

·      Fiber bars– Fiber One Chewy Bars (Oats & Choc.), Gnu Foods Flavor & Fiber (Cinnamon Raisin)

·      Protein bars– Garden of Life fucoProtein (Peanut Butter Crunch), GNC Pro Performance Pro-Crunch (Cookies & Cream), GNC Pro Performance Pro-Crunch Lite (Choc. Peanut Butter), Marked Protein Bar (Choc. Peanut Butter), Quest Bar Protein Bar (Banana Nut Muffin), Nature Valley Protein (Peanut Butter Dark Choc.)

·      Meal Replacement bars– Glucerna Meal Bar (Choc. Peanut), GNC Total Lean Breakfast Squares (Oatmeal Choc. Chip), Larabar (Apple Pie), Probar Meal (Superfood Slam)

Beans, Beans, Beans!

Once known as a “poor man’s food”, beans are becoming more popular due to their many health benefits and should be considered the “healthy man’s food”.

Beans are full of protein, fiber, low in fat, and they deliver plenty of vitamins, minerals, and other healthful nutrients. There is an increased amount of research that links a diet rich in beans with a reduced risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon and other cancers, as well as improved weight control.

Not only are beans great for you, but they are also cheap and super easy to use in millions of delicious recipes. Substituting beans for meat is a great way to get more beans in your diet. There is such a wide variety of beans to choose from, such as black, pinto, lima, soy, garbanzo, kidney, lentils, mung, navy, and black-eyed peas.

One reason individuals stay away from beans is due to their gaseous effects.

Here are some good tips to cut down on the gas so you can keep eating those healthy beans!

·      Soak the beans and rinse before cooking

·      Start slowly with adding in beans and let your body get used to the fiber increase

·      Chew thoroughly to help break down the beans

·      Grab a Beano or other gas relieving product before you eat

Check out our recipes section for some great bean recipes! If you would like to read more, go to


The many layers of Yogurt… How do I choose?

Yogurt can be a good source of protein and calcium and can be used as a breakfast, snack or even dessert. Some yogurts contain added Vitamin D, such as Dannon, Silk, So Delicious, Stonyfield, YoCrunch, and Yoplait.

Yogurt is made from two strains of bacteria that are added to milk. The question is, can yogurt’s “live” or “active cultures” restore beneficial bacteria to your gut? There has not been good evidence to prove this is true. The only clear benefit so far, is yogurt’s ability to change lactose into lactic acid, which may help those with lactose intolerance.

With all the different yogurts out here, how do you choose the best one for you? Here are some good tips to keep in mind when strolling down the yogurt aisle.

·      Watch out for mix-ins! When you are given extras to put in your yogurt, such as chocolate covered balls of crispy rice cereal, think added sugar and calories!

·      Full fat yogurts- Watch out for code words, such as “authentic”, “traditional”, indulgently silky” and “hand-crafted”. These yogurts are typically made from whole milk, which means high calorie, high saturated fat.

·      Sugary Bliss- Next time you are at the grocery store, compare Chobani’s Greek yogurt plain to their flavored variety. The plain has about 7 grams of sugar, while the flavored contains roughly 19 grams of sugar! Unfortunately, most flavored yogurts, especially those with added fruit contain a large amount of sugar. Yogurt companies don’t have to tell you what’s natural and what’s added, so you have to assume most is added.

Your best bet, when it comes to choosing yogurt is going for the non-fat, plain and adding your own fruit at home. You save on calories, saturated fat, and sugar. If you are needing more protein in your diet, grab the Greek, non-fat plain, which can have twice as much protein as regular yogurt.

Breakfast vs. Dinner

Can eating a large breakfast and small dinner help with weight loss?

In a recent study, scientists randomly assigned 74 overweight or obese women with metabolic syndrome (having at least 3 out of 5 of the following: low HDL “good” cholesterol; elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, and/or blood triglycerides; and increased waist size) into two groups. Both groups were given a 1,400-calorie diet for weight loss and assigned to the breakfast group or the dinner group. In the breakfast group, the women consumed more calories at breakfast and fewer calories at dinner (Breakfast-700 calories, Lunch-500 calories, Dinner-200 calories). In the dinner group, the women were advised to consume fewer calories at breakfast and more calories at dinner (Breakfast-200 calories, Lunch-500 calories, Dinner-700 calories).

After 12 weeks, the breakfast group showed greater weight loss, waist circumference reduction, and lower blood sugar compared to the dinner group. The mean triglyceride levels decreased by 34% in the breakfast group and rose by 15% in the dinner group. The breakfast group also reported being less hungry during the 12 weeks compared to the dinner group.

This is only one study, which isn’t enough to prove that a bigger breakfast leads to more weight loss than a bigger dinner. However, we do know that eating breakfast every morning is important for weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.

Check out the full article

Don’t Let Discomfort Keep You from Being Healthy

I read an interesting article that a patient gave me that I think applies to a lot of people, especially when it comes to getting healthier.

The main point of the article is we all typically run from things that cause us discomfort, such as exercise or eating a healthy diet. Discomfort isn’t an intense pain, but we still have a fear of it because it means we have to leave our comfort zone. For example, some people feel discomfort while eating vegetables because it is not something that they regularly do, therefore it becomes uncomfortable.

Most people tend to run from this discomfort instead of facing it. When you are constantly running from discomfort, you are limiting yourself to a small comfort zone and you miss out on a lot of great things. If exercise and eating healthy food make you uncomfortable, this can lead to a very unhealthy lifestyle.

Learning how to become okay with discomfort can lead to a better, healthier life, but how do you start? First, try it in small doses. If eating vegetables makes you uncomfortable, try a vegetable anyway. It might not be the best thing in the world, but it won’t be the worst either. You can actually learn to love vegetables if you try!

Second, immerse yourself in discomfort. Instead of avoiding certain emotions and covering them up with food, face those emotions and immerse yourself in them. It may be uncomfortable for a while, but you can find others ways to cope.

Third, seek discomfort by challenging yourself daily. Find something that is uncomfortable to you and do it, such as exercise. You might surprise yourself when it ends up not being as bad as you thought.

Fourth, watch yourself run from things. Notice what you have been avoiding because it causes discomfort. What have you allowed yourself to rationalize? When it comes to getting healthier, we can rationalize anything. For example, you are waiting to start exercising or waiting to start your “diet” once you aren’t so busy or once things calm down at home. Become aware of this process and learn how to stop yourself from avoiding things.

Fifth, learn that discomfort is your friend. Embracing discomfort and learning that it is not something to fear can be a really good thing. When you feel uncomfortable you are usually trying something new, such as a new food or your learning, expanding and becoming more than you were before.

Bottom line; don’t let your fear of discomfort keep you from becoming a healthier, happier person. Go out and try something new today! Maybe go for a walk or try a healthy recipe. Either way, it will most likely be easier than you thought. Check out the full article at

The Mediterranean Way

According to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or olive oil dramatically reduced the risk of heart disease and stroke compared with a low-fat diet.

A total of 7,447 people with high cardiovascular risk participated in the study and were assigned to one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet rich in fish, beans, fruits, and vegetables and supplemented with either mixed nuts (30 g a day of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) or extra-virgin olive oil (one liter a week) or a controlled diet (advised to reduce dietary fat).

Both Mediterranean diet groups had approximately 30% risk reduction in major cardiovascular events compared to the low-fat diet. These results are supported by other studies. The Lyon Diet Heart Study also showed a large reduction in rates of coronary heart disease with a modified Mediterranean diet and the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial showed no cardiovascular benefit from a low-fat dietary approach.

In conclusion, the New England Journal of Medicine study supports the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Check out the full study at