The Five

Whenever you hear the word carbs, you usually hear it in a negative context: cutting carbs, low carb, bad carbs. There is such a thing as good carbs, though, and here’s how you can tell the difference.

Good Carbs = Complex

The carbohydrates (carbs) you find in plants are usually good for you. Their structure is more complex so your body has to work hard to break them down into energy. They’re often filled with fiber, too, so they can be good for weight loss and sustaining your energy levels. Complex carbohydrates include:

  • Legumes such as lentils, beans, and peas
  • Fruits and vegetables with edible skin or seeds
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains such as quinoa and oats 
  • Brown rice, pasta, and cereals made of whole grains

Bad Carbs = Simple

Simple carbs are the ones you should be wary of. “These are carbohydrates that have many of their necessary nutrients removed. Simple carbs are digested quickly, causing spikes in blood sugar and making you feel hungry sooner. The short-lived fullness leads to overeating, weight gain, and conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.” (Source: WebMD) Simple carbs are usually processed (but not always) and they contain a lot of sugar. Simple carbs can be found in:

  • White bread
  • Enriched or refined pasta
  • Enriched or refined dough
  • Pastries
  • White rice

As you can see, not all carbs are bad carbs, so instead of depriving yourself of carbs, try swapping out bad carbs for good ones! For more information contact us today!

After all the big meals and desserts consumed over the holidays, the start of a new year usually brings with it the pressure to lose weight and “get healthy again.” Instead of dieting, however, what if we were simply more thoughtful of the food we put into our bodies? What if we turned off the TV, set down our phones, and ate a meal fellowshipping with friends? Mindful eating requires you to shift the way you think about, prepare, and consume food. Because of this, it might take more time and effort than dieting, but it is far more effective and may even help you lose weight faster! Here’s how.

Mindful eating changes the way you think about food.

Mindful eating starts with slowing down, carefully putting together a plate of nutritious food, and then eating it slowly and thoughtfully. When you savor every bite of your meal, you see eating as an act of self-care. You are able to truly enjoy the process of nourishing your body. This helps you lose weight because the more you enjoy healthy, thought-out meals, the less you will crave quick junk food and snacks later. Those snacks tend to be where we pick up empty calories, extra sugar, etc. Additionally, on the occasion where you do have to grab food-to-go, slowing down helps you make healthier snack choices too.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating helps your body develop a healthy digestive rhythm.

Mindful eating is about being thoughtful about the types and amount of food we eat. But mindful eating can also mean being more thoughtful about when and how often we eat too.

Eating regular meals at consistent times each day is better for our bodies than grabbing a quick bite to eat or going long periods of time without food. Grazing wreaks havoc on our metabolisms because it raises our insulin levels. And when we get busy and deprive ourselves of food, we tend to overeat at meals because our bodies are over-hungry and aren’t sure when the next meal is going to be. Getting into a healthy eating rhythm is great for weight loss because it helps your body learn when to expect nourishment and when to digest/burn calories. It gives your digestive system time to rest too, which is a necessary part of weight loss.

When was the last time you slowed down and ate your food mindfully and intentionally? If it’s been a while, start by checking out our FitFive meals.

Between stress, extra sugar, and lack of sleep, the holiday season can leave our immune systems pretty shot. Fortunately, there are certain foods you can eat to boost your immune system! Here are 5 of the top best foods to boost your immunity in the new year.

Citrus foods

When it comes to protecting your body from getting sick, citrus foods are immunity powerhouses. Oranges, mandarins, and grapefruits all contain vitamin C, which helps our immune system ward off pathogens, kill microbes, and fight infections. Vitamin C is one of the top vitamins doctors recommend you increase when you’re either getting sick or are sick.

Berries

Another nutritious food you should consume to increase your body’s immunity is berries. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc. are high in antioxidants and help reduce inflammation and boost your body’s immune response.

Greek yogurt

If you want to strengthen your body’s ability to fight illness, Greek yogurt is another great food to start eating on a regular basis because it contains probiotics. Vanessa Rissetto M.S., RD, CDN explains just how valuable probiotics are to our immune system. “Once inside the body, probiotics interact with receptors on the intestinal cells and modulate both the innate and adaptive immune responses. Probiotics also strengthen the lining of the gut, which protects the GI tract from harm by bad bugs. These good bacteria also boost immunity by decreasing inflammation in the body.”

Vibrant Vegetables

What do spinach, red peppers, carrots, and broccoli all have in common? You guessed it: they’re all immune system boosters! Vegetables are good for us in general, but these vegetables in particular aid your immune system via antioxidants, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

Foods rich in zinc

In order for your immune system to function the way it should, your body needs zinc, the second most abundant trace mineral in your body (after iron). Foods that are rich in zinc include:

  • Oysters
  • Lamb shank
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Crab
  • Cashews
  • Chickpeas
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lobster

Foods to avoid to boost your immune system

Just like there are certain foods you should eat more of to boost your immune system, there are also foods you should avoid to keep it strong. Foods that break down your immune system include:

  • Processed meats like hot dogs and bacon. 
  • Sugar and desserts. 
  • Processed, fried and fast foods. 
  • White or refined breads and grains. 
  • Margarine. 
  • Alcohol.

Why your immune system needs whole, healthy foods

This fascinating video demonstrates just how amazing our immune systems are and just how much they rely on good, healthy foods to function the way they are supposed to. According to this video, posted by Synapse: Center for Health & Healing:

“Our cells are replaced with whatever we’ve been eating at the time. And so it’s important to know that these lymphocytes have to go in and clean up all of these cells…This is why it’s so important to eat a healthy diet with real, whole foods. Because our cells need those big building blocks, not fake foods that are going to break down and add more work to your lymphocytes. And when your immune system gets overworked, then it can’t protect you as well.”

Eating nutritious food helps your body defend itself from viruses and infections but it also helps you heal faster when you do get sick. So give your immune system a helping hand this year by incorporating these foods into your diet.

You have to do what you can to reduce chronic stress. If you know the actual trigger, then you can concentrate on taking care of that. However, if you can’t get rid of the trigger for a while, such as with a stressful job you can’t leave yet, you have to work on the stress from other angles. Food is one such angle as nutrition plays a distinct role in controlling stress.

A Cup of Tea

Tea is one of the most notable stress-relieving foods, both in plain old cup form and in the form of matcha powder. Matcha may be one of the best foods you can have when you try to soothe stress because it contains higher concentrations of compounds that have been linked to stress relief. Of course, a cup of hot tea in your favorite flavor can be enough, too, as you relax for the few minutes it takes you to drink the tea. Some herbal teas, such as chamomile and commercial preparations for stress relief can work well, too; just be sure you don’t drive after consuming these teas as they can make you drowsy.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as Swiss chard and spinach contain the B-vitamin known as folate and the mineral magnesium. These both play a role in stress control. Magnesium is of particular interest because in general, people with more magnesium have lower markers for inflammation and stress.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts are nutritional powerhouses and contain B-vitamins, which help control stress. They also contain potassium, which helps control blood pressure and cardiovascular strain. And if you prefer seeds to nuts, sunflower seeds have high levels of vitamin E, which has been linked to mood and reducing feelings of depression.

Foods

Blueberries

Blueberries are very good for stress relief as well. Not only do they taste great, but they also have anti-inflammatory properties that protect you, and they may reduce damage to your body’s cells.

Whether you’re normally surrounded by difficult situations or have just had an incredibly tough time during the pandemic, stress is not really a healthy condition to be in. While there are some good forms of stress, such as the tension felt as you try to finish up a cherished project or compete in a race you’ve been training for, chronic stress can have adverse effects on you that create their own secondary problems.

Don’t fall into the trap of bingeing on comfort foods like mac and cheese or cake. These are nice when eaten in moderation, but they are very caloric and often don’t contain a lot of diverse nutrients as vegetables and nuts do. Consider using a meal service like Fit Five, which helps you save time while still getting the foods your body needs, rather than the comfort foods your stress wants. If you’re in the Birmingham area, give your health a boost with Fit Five’s prepared meals. We have new menus every week, and our meals are available at several locations around the region. Order ahead of time for twice-weekly pickup or use our Grab ‘n Go service for healthy food anytime. For more information please contact us today.

Gaining muscle mass and building strength begins at the gym, but it doesn’t end there. Your efforts to gain strength in your training routine should go hand-in-hand with your diet. However, between a busy lifestyle and hours spent in the gym, it can be difficult to make time to eat right. Fit Five Meals offers this guide to muscle mass and strength training to help you save time and focus on your nutritional gains.

Eat Protein

10 to 30% of your caloric intake should come from protein when you’re attempting to gain muscle mass and build strength. This equals 200 to 600 calories per day based on a 2,000 calorie diet. When you’re attempting to maintain muscle mass, fewer protein calories may be required. The Academy recommends focusing on lean, low-fat proteins such as seafood, poultry, and beans. You can also include three servings of low-fat dairy throughout the day.

Don’t Forget About Other Foods Too!

Protein is not the only food group that can help you in the gym. Carbohydrates, especially those from whole grains, can help you have more energy in the gym. When your body burns energy from carbs, it converts that energy into glycogen, which is stored in muscles. Glycogen can help you get more out of your workouts in the gym! According to one study, glycogen is key in sustaining your athletic performance for periods of one hour or more.

Is Fat Ok?

Yes! Although health experts recommend sticking to lean and low-fat foods, fat is critical to sustaining long-term performance and building muscle mass. That doesn’t mean you have to go out of your way to eat fast food. Instead, you can get healthy, or “unsaturated,” fats from what you are already eating. Foods with healthy fats include olive oil, avocados, peanut butter, nuts, and fish. There will be some overlap between your protein and unsaturated fat intake, especially if you prefer a vegetarian, vegan, or pescetarian diet.

Some unhealthy or “saturated” fat is ok too, including high-fat animal products such as butter, milk, yogurt, and meat. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Mayo Clinic, these foods can consist of seven to 10% of your daily caloric intake.

Quick Guide

Protein, including unsaturated fats: 25-30%

Carbohydrates: 10-30%

Fruits and vegetables: 10-30%

Saturated fats: 7-10%

How Fit Five Meals Can Help

Fit Five Meals are designed to help you meet your health and fitness goals by offering nutritional meals that supplement your lifestyle. No one wants to spend hours in the gym only to worry that they are not living their best life outside of it! If you do not have time to plan or prepare meals, FFM helps save time by offering convenient locations for you to pick up meals throughout the week. For example, you can choose five meals on Friday to pick up on Monday so you are prepared for the week ahead.

With our guide to muscle mass and strength building, you can have a better idea of what to choose for yourself and your family each week! For more help and information contact us today.

Ever wondered what foods you could eat to help you fight that sugar craving? There is nothing wrong with wanting a treat once in a while. However, a problem comes in when you cannot control these desires. Your diet is often responsible for this problem. Failing to eat enough calories can lead to a drop in blood sugar levels, causing you to want that treat. Alternatively, some people have nurtured this habit and cannot go for long without wanting something sugary. However, when addressing these cravings, it is critical to find healthy options. The following foods are worth considering when you are dealing with this problem.

1. Fruits

You can never go wrong with fruit. Besides, they come ready-made, which saves on time. The mix of healthy sugars, high nutrition, antioxidants, fats, and fiber will offer you unlimited benefits. You can have your pick of the bunch depending on which ones you are most receptive to. However, it is advisable to go for ones with high sugar content, like mangoes or pineapples. This option comes with the bonus of making milkshakes or putting your fruit in yogurt, dealing with both hunger and sugar cravings.

2. Legumes

This item is probably your least expected. However, those peas, beans, and lentils go a long way in providing your body with essential nutrients and proteins. Besides, they also have a filling effect to help you deal with those sugar and carbs cravings.

3. Sweet Potatoes

How can we forget this heaven-sent option? Sweet potatoes are highly nutritious and filling. Therefore, if you have not had a meal, this option would help you deal with this problem whilst also helping you deal with that itching desire for sugar.

4. Trail Mix

Here is another time-saving and healthy option. The mix of dried fruit and nuts ensures you get a rich source of nutritional value in addition to dealing with that desire for sugar. This option is suitable for people who want to get more nuts in their diet. It is also a nice treat that will not leave you feeling too full.

5. Snack bars

These are also one of the most convenient foods you can use to deal with sugar cravings. However, you should opt for sugar-free and healthier brands. This option lets you deal with the desire on the go, which is very convenient.

6. Experiment with Milk and Yogurt

Milk is highly nutritious, while yogurt is a good source of beneficial bacteria. Therefore, getting more of these two in your diet would be healthy. However, why stop there when you can make it sweeter and deal with that sugar craving too? For example, you can use fruit and berries to make smoothies. Alternatively, you can freeze them in the yogurt to make your custom “froyo” with a fruity twist. You can also add honey as a source of nutritious sweetness.

Finding wholesome ways to deal with sugar cravings helps to optimize your health. Of course, you can give yourself a treat occasionally. However, always opt for healthier options most of the time. Here at Fit Five, we serve foods that address your sugar cravings whilst also being healthy and wholesome. Visit our online shop and order now.