11 Best Sources of Protein




The best sources of protein are sources that are highly bioavailable – meaning your body can absorb the protein and use it directly. The most bioavailable protein sources come from animal products because they contain all of the amino acids – this is unlike plant sources that are incomplete and less bioavailable. When choosing an animal based protein, get the greatest bang for your buck by choosing organic, pastured, and/or grass fed products. These products are free from hormones and antibiotics, have twice as many nutrients and antioxidants compared to conventional products, and contain a better ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids (which you want and is hard to find). In practice, when I am advising a patient about how to maintain muscle, lose fat, or maintain their ideal body composition, it all comes down to protein intake.

Below you’ll see I listed typical protein, fat, and carbohydrate  content to give you an idea of how much the food source contains, but it can vary by brand.

Below are the healthiest and easiest sources of protein to use as snacks and meals: 




1. Eggs

One egg has: 

6 grams of protein

5 grams of fat

0.6 grams of carb



2. Egg whites

One egg white has:

5 grams of protein

0 grams of fat

0.2 grams carb



3. Chicken breast

1/2 cup cooked has about:

20 grams of protein

2.5 grams of fat

0 grams of carbs



4. Chicken thigh

1/2 cup cooked has about:

17 grams of protein

7 grams of fat

0 grams of carbs



5. Turkey 

1/2 cup cooked (ground) has about:

17 grams of protein

8 grams of fat

0 grams of carbs



6. Salmon

1/2 cup cooked has about:

16 grams of protein

5 grams of fat

0 grams of carbs



7. Cod

1/2 cup cooked has about:

20 grams of protein

4 grams of fat

0.5 grams of carbs



8. Cottage cheese

1/2 cup has about:

12 grams of protein

5 grams of fat

0 grams of carbs



9. Plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup has about:

11 grams of protein

grams of fat varies widely (no limit on fat advised)

grams of carbs varies widely (look for less than 10 grams of carbs)



10. Beef 

1/2 cup has about:

15 grams of protein

12 grams of fat

0 grams of carbs



11. Whey protein

1 scoop of whey protein has about:

20 grams of protein

grams of fat varies widely (no limit on fat advised)

grams of carbs varies widely (look for less than 5 grams of net carbs)



How to use this guide

The next time you are wondering what to snack on or what protein source you should use for your next meal, choose one of the above to add some variety!

References

  1. myfitnesspal.com
  2. fatsecret.com 



 

EAT THIS, SKIP THAT! At Breakfast




Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because what you eat (or don’t eat) will play a huge part in how you feel the rest of the day. Yes, that one meal in the morning will affect your mood, blood sugar, hunger, and food choices for the rest of the day – wow! So what do you choose when it comes to choosing your breakfast?!

Below lists what to eat and what to skip when it comes to breakfast:




1. If you are craving pancakes…

SKIP: Pancakes 

Pancakes are high carb and low fiber (yes even whole wheat) and low in nutrients – and that’s before you add any type of topping or filler (ie syrup). Pancakes should really just be called “cake” because that’s basically what they are. There are certainly ways to make healthy versions of pancakes, but traditional pancakes are a no-no.

EAT: Oatmeal

Instead go for the gluten-free oatmeal. This way you are still getting the carbs you crave minus the sugar, and some fiber and resistant starch to keep you full. 




2. If you are starving…

SKIP: Breakfast burrito

I get it, you are starving, and a breakfast burrito sounds very tempting, but All of the ingredients in your typical breakfast burrito are filling enough! You don’t need the wrapper which has little to no nutritional value.

EAT: Omelette

Get more bang for your buck with an omelette which gives you a great combination of eggs, veggies, and maybe even a cheese or another protein which will keep you full and satisfied.




3. If you are craving juice…

SKIP: All juices (unless made only from vegetables)

Juice is basically a fruit squeezed of all its sugar and put into a glass for you to drink. When you just drink the juice you are missing out on vital nutrients and fiber which comes from the fruit itself – not it’s fluid.

EAT: Fruit bowl

Always go for the whole food rather than the liquid coming from the food. The food itself has the majority of the nutrients and all of the fiber compared to its juice.



4. If you are craving coffee…

SKIP: Everything but black coffee

When a “coffee drink” has more ingredients other than coffee, it’s not really coffee anymore. Your frappuccinos, mochas, lattes, pumps of different flavored syrups, are not doing you any good because they contain zero healthy nutrients and are just adding chemicals, sugar, and empty calories.

DRINK: Black coffee (i.e. ingredients include only water and coffee beans)

 If you want coffee, stick to the real deal, and if you want to fancy it up then get a cold brew or add a splash of almond milk. 



5. If you are craving a bagel…

SKIP: Bagel

Did you know that a standard bagel is equivalent to four pieces of bread?! This super high carb meal causes your blood sugar to skyrocket and then shoot right back down making you feel lethargic and sleepy – the last thing you want to feel like in the morning! No one needs that much carb in one sitting.

EAT: Open face egg sandwich

Add slices of avocado or another egg or protein source if you are extra hungry. Adding more protein or fat will not cause any blood sugar changes, and will keep you more full and satisfied.



6. If you are craving a bowl of oatmeal…

SKIP: Quick oats

Also referred to as “instant oats” these type of oats have been highly processed meaning they have been stripped of most of their nutritional value. And definitely stay away from the pre-packaged instant oats that have been infused with maple and other sugars.

EAT: Irish oats

Irish oats are also called steel-cut oats and are the least processed of the oats. This means they will give you the greatest nutritional value.



7. If you are cravings a bowl of cereal…

SKIP: Raisin Bran

I can’t even count how many times a patient has told me they are trying to eat healthy and so they started eating Raisin Bran. This cereal has approximately 17 grams of sugar in one serving! To put this into perspective, guidelines recommend no more than 25 grams of sugar per DAY!  And unless you are precisely measuring this serving you are likely taking in even more.

EAT: Fiber One Original

Fiber One is hands-down the best choice in terms of cereal. It is high in fiber, low in calories, and contains zero sugar. However, It’s not gluten-free, but it is the absolute best choice when it comes to choosing cereal.



8. If you are craving yogurt…

SKIP: Flavored yogurt

In general, all flavored yogurts have too much sugar. Anything over 5 grams of sugar is too much, and most have over 10 grams – no bueno. Be especially weary of “fat-free” marketing because this almost always means additional sugar has been added to give it flavor (since the fat has been taken out).

EAT: Plain Greek yogurt

Plain is the main thing you want to look for, Greek is best because this type of yogurt contains the greatest amount of protein. Still check the nutrition label because sometimes plain yogurt still has a ton of sugar in it. To add some sweetness consider adding some berries and nuts.



6 Healthy Desserts To Curb Your Sweet Tooth




Who doesn’t love a treat? Especially when the treat is actually not bad for you – woo hoo! Unfortunately, treats and desserts are either super high calorie and high sugar, or taste like cardboard and make you crave treats even more. What to do? Well, here at The Mindful Tech Lab we have a small dessert almost every single evening and below is a list of our favorite healthy treats. All are low sugar and low calorie, so you don’t have to worry about derailing your diet when consuming them. Hooray!

Below lists our favorite healthy treats:



1. Dark Chocolate

This is our number one favorite healthy treat. Always go for dark chocolate because it has the greatest amount of nutrients and health benefits, as well as being the lowest in sugar of the chocolates. Look for dark chocolate that has over 80% cocoa, because the higher the percentage of cocoa, the lower the sugar – check our the nutritional labels and compare. Note that the higher the percentage of cocoa the  more bitter the taste due to the lower sugar content, so consider starting on the lower end of percent cocoa and work your way up.



2. Berries

We love blackberries and raspberries because they are low in sugar, high in fiber, and taste great! Both fresh or frozen are good choices, just make sure if you buy frozen that it is not sweetened. A good trick is warming up frozen berries in the microwave because when it melts it tastes like pie filling! Stick to one serving of berries which is 1/2 cup, it can be very easy to triple this serving size, so pay attention to the serving size.



3. ARCTIC ZERO

We love ARCTIC ZERO frozen desserts because their products are gluten free and lactose free, and they use only natural ingredients, no artificial sweeteners and no artificial coloring. We also love that they sweeten their products with monk fruit, which is a natural sweetener and has a great taste. The main ingredient they use is whey protein, which gives it some protein and flavor. Our favorite lowest sugar flavors are Salted Caramel and Vanilla Maple.



4. Halo Top

If you are really wanting that ice cream taste and texture without all of the sugar and empty calories, this is your brand! Halo Top makes both dairy based and vegan products, but so far we have only tried the dairy based. The dairy based desserts are high in protein (around 12 grams) because they are made with eggs, milk, and cream, and low in sugar (around 5 grams) because they are sweetened with the natural sweetener stevia (a sweetener we approve of). The vegan desserts are coconut milk based and are also sweetened by stevia. The vegan products are lower in protein compared to the dairy based (about 3 grams) but are also very low in sugar (about 4 grams) which makes this product a great choice as well.



5. Plain greek yogurt with stevia or berries

This means low sugar greek yogurt, around 5 grams of sugar – very important to read nutritional labels here!! Even “plain” greek yogurt can have up to 20 grams of sugar without even tasting sweet – crazy right! Give it some flavor by sweetening with the natural sweetener stevia or monk fruitwith some warmed up berries. Watch the serving size of this and stick to 1/2 cup.



6. Hot chocolate

A low sugar hot chocolate is one of the best healthy desserts because it gives you high volume with low sugar and calories. We really like the brand Lakanto, who makes a drinking chocolate with about 2 grams of carbs and less than 10 calories per serving. We’ve tried A LOT of different products, and this one is the best in terms of taste and ingredients. It is sweetened by monk fruit, which is a natural and zero calorie sweetener. This product is also dairy free, gluten free, and vegan. Mix it with a cup of warmed unsweetened almond milk!

Enjoy!




The Worst Vacation Habits Making You Gain Weight




Taking a vacation is one of the very best things you can do for yourself because it’s a time to make happy memories and to reset and recharge. That being said, vacation can also be a time that you sabotage your healthy diet and exercise routine if you don’t plan accordingly.

Read below the worst vacation choices making you gain weight:

Choosing a hotel without a gym

If your hotel does not have a gym you won’t even have a chance to stick to any sort of exercise routine. If you are new to exercise and aren’t a huge fan of exercise, this can be a slippery slope of getting you back into old habits of not exercising. Not having a gym also means you won’t be able to burn off those extra calories you are consuming while on vacation, which means quicker and more weight gain.



Taking a road trip

A road trip is not doing you any favors when it comes to keeping up an exercise routine and sticking to a healthy diet. Think about the typical road trip snacks – chips, pretzels, and other 7-11 choices – plus the dining options on the road tend to not be the healthiest. 

Not to say you can’t make a road trip healthy, it just takes extra planning in terms of packing healthy meals and scheduling many pit stops to take walks and get exercise.

Staying at an all-inclusive resort

Staying at an all-inclusive means you must eat as much as you can to get your money’s worth right!? Er, maybe not the best plan when trying to stick to a healthy diet 😉 Also keep in mind that resorts understand that most of their guests feel this way and so the quality of the food may suffer to increase the volume available.



Relying on airport food

Lets be real, the majority of the food you will find in the airport is fast-food and it is difficult to actually find something healthy. Plus the food is highly marked up in price so you certainly aren’t saving any money by eating at the airport.

Relying on airplane snacks and meals

Not only is the food more expensive on the airplane, it also tends to not be the tastiest and definitely not the healthiest.



Not packing workout clothes

If you don’t pack appropriate clothes to exercise in, you’re not even giving yourself the option to exercise when on vacation.

You only drink specialty cocktails

Specialty cocktails are one of the worst diet mistakes you can make because they literally have zero nutritional value and are loaded with calories, sugar, and carbs – the recipe for fast weight gain.



Drinking too much

It won’t kill your diet to have one specialty cocktail, but once you start going past one cocktail those calories will add up to extra pounds on fat on your body quickly. Plus, drinking alcohol can make you crave unhealthy meals and lower your will power when it comes to making healthy decisions.

Not making a plan to exercise

If you aren’t making a plan for when you will workout, there is a good chance it’s not going to happen. 



Not packing sneakers

You are setting yourself up for a very sedentary vacation if you choose not to pack sneakers. 

Grazing all day

Snacking all day at the pool is only going to result in overeating, especially when the snacks are tasty foods like fries and chips.



Not utilizing the kitchen

If your hotel room has a kitchen and you aren’t using it, this is a definite mistake! This means you are also missing out on the ability to save some money and to eat healthy.

Personal experience: If we stay at an Airbnb or a hotel with a kitchen we always make a point of finding a market to pick up a few food items that we can easily make into meals and/or snacks. Some of our favorite simple and healthy meals and snacks include cutting up fruit, frying up some eggs, making nut butter banana sandwiches, or buying prepared foods and putting them together to make a meal.

Choosing the buffet

A buffet is doing you no favors if you are trying to stick to a healthy diet. With so many options, it’s easy to over serve your plate and go back for seconds or even thirds! Plus who can pass up all of the desserts.

Main takeaways…

Above are the top vacation habits to break when it comes to sticking to a healthy diet and exercise routine. 




Top 11 Breakfast Practices Making You Gain Weight




Breakfast can either make or break your diet – start off with the wrong breakfast and it can be very hard to get back on a healthy eating track for the day.

There are many mistakes you can make at breakfast time that can definitely derail your diet and expand your waistline. Don’t make the most common mistakes. Read below to learn the top breakfast habits making you gain weight:




1. Choosing granola

Granola is one of the biggest diet mistakes you can make in the morning because it is loaded with sugar, carbs, and a ton of calories. To make matters worse, it is often labeled as a “healthy” meal which can cause many individuals to load up on it because it’s healthy right? No. Step away from the granola, it will make you gain weight without you even realizing.

Professional experience: I had a new patient come in for a yearly physical, she was in her mid 40s and had been gaining weight steadily for the past few years despite having a personal chef (yes!) and seeing a personal trainer a couple of times a week. When I asked about her diet, she said that for breakfast she was eating homemade granola (by her personal chef) made with “all natural and healthy” ingredients like honey and maple sugar, plus yogurt and fruit. I stopped her right there without hearing anything else and told her how that breakfast was definitely sabotaging her efforts to lose weight and was most certainly a cause for her steady weight gain.

A year later I saw the woman back for her yearly physical again and I almost didn’t recognize her – she had lost at least 50lbs! Plus her skin and hair was noticeably smoother and more youthful.

This type of scenario happens in practice ALL of the time. Even with a personal chef AND a personal trainer, this doesn’t mean you will just naturally lose weight.

2. A bowl of “whole grain” cereal with milk

Cereal is in the same category as granola – it’s just sugar and carbs with little to no protein or healthy fat. It’s slightly worse than granola only because it is also highly processed. Not only will cereal not fill you up, it sets you up to be hungrier later because it spikes your blood sugar and then brings it back down just as quickly – meaning a hangry you later. Even worse, when you pair cereal with milk this adds even more sugar because a cup of non-fat milk has around 12 grams of sugar! The bottom line is that cereal is doing you no favors, skip it.

Professional experience: Cereal is definitely the most common breakfast of choice that I hear from patients. It seems to be either Cheerios or Raisin Bran and the patient almost always tells me they eat cereal because they are trying to eat healthy. I generally recommend instead eating eggs because they are easy to cook and are excellent for you.



3. Eating plain toast

Toast is actually better than cereal or granola because it tends to be lower in sugar. That being said, it is still all carbs and will not keep you full for very long, will spike your blood sugar, and make you hungry not too long after eating.

Healthy tip: Make toast part of a healthy breakfast by adding a protein and/or fat to help slow the release of carbs into your bloodstream. I personally love adding almond butter to toast, grass-fed butter, or adding an egg on top.

Don’t add this: Skip the jams and jellies because these are basically pure sugar. One trick I like to do to is warm up frozen berries and add them to almond butter on top of toast – you can see this on our Instagram page.

4. Using flavored coffee creamer

Cream by itself is actually fine as long as you use a tiny amount, but flavored coffee creamer with added sugars and artificial ingredients is doing you know favors. The sugary creamer adds tons of sugar and calories without you even realizing it. The serving size is also normally very small, like a tablespoon or less, so unless you are measuring it out, you are probably at least tripling this.



5. Eating a bagel

Bagels are a no-no in the morning because most bagels are equivalent to four pieces of bread or more – yikes! This means tons of carbs, tons of calories, and very little nutritional value. Eating a bagel will make you hungry not too long after eating and can set you up to crave carbs and sugar for the rest of the day.

Healthy tip: Make a bagel healthier by eating half a bagel and adding a protein and/or fat like eggs or almond butter. Another trick is scooping out some of the middle of the bagel and adding in the eggs or other fat/protein combo.

6. Oatmeal toppings

Who eats oatmeal plain? Probably no one. Oatmeal in itself is fine, but the toppings are what get you and can make you gain weight. Think toppings like brown sugar, milk (FYI milk is loaded with sugar), and dried fruit. All of these make your oatmeal a sugary carby disaster that will most certainly lead to weight gain.

Healthy toppings: There are certainly healthy toppings you can add to your oatmeal. Some of my favorites include walnuts, almond butter, frozen berries (helps to cool it down), unsweetened nut milk, and stirring in an egg white or two.



7. Watching TV while you eat

Mindless eating leads to overeating and not feeling satisfied with the meal – the perfect recipe for weight gain. Take the few minutes you have in the morning to sit down and give full attention to your breakfast. This will cause you to slow down and to fully enjoy the meal.

8. Grabbing a pastry

Hopefully you know that eating a pastry in the morning is not doing your weight any favors. Pastries are loaded with carbs, sugar, and unhealthy fats and can make your body go into fat storage mode.

Professional experience: When I was working in Manhattan, pastries were a super common breakfast food I heard from my patients so I wanted to throw this one in the list.



9. Eating fruit only

Fruit is packed with vitamins and other great nutrients, but fruit is also packed with sugar. Fruit has some fiber to help slow the release of the sugar into your bloodstream, but it will still likely raise your blood sugar rapidly. This means you will be hungrier sooner and can put your body into fat storage mode.

Healthy tip: Pair fruit with a couple of eggs, or add in some nuts for some fiber and healthy fat.

10. Drinking juice

Juice is worse than just eating fruit because juice has zero fiber and is loaded with sugar, meaning a greater blood sugar spike and increased hunger.

Skip the juice and go for whole fruit with a side of protein or fat.



11. Sipping a chai latte

Think you are being healthy by just sticking to a coffee drink in the morning? Unfortunately, nope. Drinking a chai latte as well as any other coffee drink that doesn’t consist of just coffee beans is generally a diet disaster. A chai latte is one of the worst offenders because it sounds like it would be healthier than a mocha or a Frappuccino, but it is actually loaded with just as much sugar (or more!) and has more carbs than a candy bar – yikes!

Main takeaways…

When it comes to breakfast, skip the sugar and carbs and stick to protein, fat, and fiber to keep you full and to prevent you from packing on the pounds.




Best High Carb Vegetables To Add To Your Diet




I feel like I am always bashing carbs, so good news today because this article is all about the carbs I do recommend! While I do advise low carb eating, I don’t advise anyone to be zero carb because all vegetables have carbs and you should be eating as many vegetables as you can. Below lists my top recommended higher carb vegetables:

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of potassium and Vitamin A, as well as many other vitamins and minerals. I recommend adding half a cup to a cup of baked sweet potato to your dinner.



Butternut squash

Butternut squash is very similar to sweet potato. We love baking or steaming butternut squash, or even making it into a mash and adding some grass-fed butter. I recommend half a cup to a full cup serving.



Carrots

Carrots make a great snack because they give you that crunch plus they have great flavor. If you like cooked carrots then try steaming or baking them and adding to your dinner.

Parsnips

Parsnips are a surprisingly sweet vegetable. Parsnips are great to spiralize into noodles, but you can also cut up in slices and bake in the oven. Because parsnips are on the sweeter side, I advise a cup or less for a serving.



 

Beets

I love beets because they have a great mix of sweetness and earthy flavor. I love adding about half a medium beet to a smoothie after a workout or roasting beets in the oven.



Main takeaways…

The above vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, fiber, and good carbs. These higher carb vegetables are nutrient dense, meaning you don’t need very much to get a high dose of nutrition. Unless you are watching your weight or you are very sensitive to carbs, you can eat as much of the above as you want. If you are trying to lose weight or you have a harder time with carbs, then you may want to limit serving sizes to a half a cup to one cup cooked of the above.