Active time: 15 minutes Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Perfect for a picnic, these little jars look and taste like your favorite cheesecake recipe, but with less sugar and fat thanks to reduced-fat cream cheese, part-skim ricotta, and thick Greek yogurt. Be sure to read labels and choose graham crackers and vanilla yogurt that are lower in sugar to keep calories in check. To drop the sugar content even more, opt for plain Greek yogurt with a few dashes of vanilla extract.
Raspberry Cheesecake Jars
- 1 1/2 cups (170g) raspberries, frozen or fresh
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
- 5 cinnamon graham crackers, crushed (78g) (i.e., Annie’s Organic Cinnamon Grahams)
- 4 ounces (113g) Neufchatel cheese
- 1/2 cup (124g) part-skim ricotta
- 1 (5.3oz/150g) container less-sugar vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
Place the raspberries and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the juices are thick and syrupy, 3 minutes. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until cooled.
Smash the graham crackers into crumbs with a rolling pin or mallet. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly among 6 small (4 ounce/117ml) jam jars. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the remaining tablespoon of sugar, cream cheese, yogurt, ricotta, lemon zest and almond extract with a hand held mixer until smooth and fluffy, 3 minutes. Spoon the mixture into the glasses on top of the graham crackers. Spoon the raspberry sauce over the top. Screw on the lids and chill for at least 1 hour before serving or store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Serves: 6 | Serving Size: 1 jar (1/2 cup or 95g)
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 189; Total Fat: 7g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 21mg; Sodium: 179mg; Carbohydrate: 25g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 14g; Protein: 7g
When you think about the best type of workouts for weight loss, your mind might not immediately jump to strength training, but it should. While it’s definitely true that cardio workouts get your heart working harder and as a result, help your body burn calories, strength training is what’s really going to give your weight-loss goals that extra boost.
Before we really get into it, we want to make it clear that weight loss as a goal isn’t necessarily for everyone. For anyone who has a history of disordered eating, even if you’re in recovery, you should speak with a doctor before you pursue any weight-loss goal, including starting a new exercise routine. And even if you don’t have a history of disordered eating, it’s really important to have realistic expectations and make sure you’re pursuing weight loss in a healthy way. Results can be incredibly difficult to come by, may take a very long time to achieve, and are also really hard to maintain. Also important to remember: Exercise is only part of the equation. You have to create a calorie deficit (burning more calories than you consume in a day) in order to lose weight, which requires not just working out, but also being cognizant about what you’re eating, making sure to eat quality calories and watch portion sizes. You need to get good sleep, regularly. You need to have lowered stress levels. You need to take care of your other bodily needs. With so many factors at play, it’s no wonder weight loss is a very unique experience for every person.
If weight loss is a goal of yours, incorporating strength training into your routine is key. Here’s the thing, while strength training may not give you the instant heart-pounding, sweat-dripping satisfaction of, say, Zumba or an indoor cycling class, in the long run, building lean muscle definitely works in favor of your weight-loss goals. The short version? Having more muscle means your body burns more calories at rest. The long version? Read on for more on why strength training is the best exercise for weight loss.
STRENGTH TRAINING HELPS BUILD LEAN MUSCLE
“Aerobic exercise is actually the most effective in losing weight, however, it’s not the best at burning fat and increasing lean mass (muscle),” says Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., founder of TS Fitness. When you’re losing weight strictly through cardio, it’s normal to lose muscle and fat. And if resistance training isn’t a part of your plan to counteract this, you could actually be slowing down your metabolism by losing lean muscle mass, rather than revving it up (which can lead to weight-loss plateaus).
Strength training is better at much building muscle than a cardio-only routine, explains Michaela Devries-Aboud, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at McMaster University. “When you lift weights, you overload the muscle and it works to adapt to be able to lift more weight. The way the muscle adapts is by increasing something called myofibrillar size (the contractile units of the muscle),” she explains. Resistance training stimulates this growth, which leads to an increase in muscle mass over time. “And while aerobic exercise can also [stimulate this process], this increase is not as great as it is with resistance exercise.”
MORE MUSCLE = A HIGHER BMR (BASE METABOLIC RATE)
Having more lean muscle means your body will burn more calories at rest. Having more muscle increases your everyday base metabolic rate, or BMR (AKA, how many calories your body would burn just to keep itself running if you did nothing but binge on Netflix all day). “Muscle mass is a more metabolically expensive tissue,” explains Devries-Aboud. “The metabolic demand of a pound of muscle is greater than it is for a pound of fat, so just sitting around, the amount of energy needed to maintain a pound of muscle per day is greater than that of a pound of fat. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn throughout the day.”
“Muscle is constantly being broken down, recreated, and synthesized, and all these processes require energy. The more muscle you have, the more energy it takes for this process,” adds Tamir. So by building more muscle, you’re stoking the fires of your metabolism. By increasing your BMR and burning more calories at rest, you’re also increasing your calorie deficit, which is necessary for weight loss. (Get all of the formulas and information you need to figure out how many calories you should eat for weight loss.)
And don’t freak out if you don’t see huge results on the scale: “Go by how your clothes fit, because muscle is more compact than fat,” suggests Devries-Aboud. If you’re not losing as much weight as you think you should be, you’re probably building muscle as you’re losing fat, and that’s a good thing! (And no, you won’t get bulky.)
“That new muscle has a huge influence on decreasing body fat,” explains Holly Perkins, B.S., C.S.C.S. “The net result is that you are tighter and leaner, regardless of what the scale says.”
YOU’LL STILL BURN CALORIES DURING A STRENGTH WORKOUT
Even though cardio gets a lot of the credit when it comes to calorie-torching workouts, you can still get a great burn during a strength-training session by adding in some heart-pumping elements. There are several things you can do maximize your burn, says Perkins: Move faster between exercises, don’t rest between sets, move quickly during each set, increase your reps, and choose heavier weights (but don’t go so heavy that you risk injury, of course). Or, “add a five-minute cardio burst in-between strength moves: Hop on the treadmill and jog or sprint for five minutes,” says Perkins.
“These methods work mostly because they increase your heart rate during the workout,” she explains. “An increase in heart rate means a greater need for fuel, and a greater need for fuel means that your body will demand more calories. Also, as a result of an intense workout, your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC, will [go up and] result in more calories being burned after the workout. Think of EPOC as a temporary boost to your metabolism.” This is known as the afterburn effect.
HERE’S HOW TO ADD STRENGTH TRAINING INTO YOUR WEIGHT-LOSS PLAN
At the end of the day, you still have to burn more calories than you take in to lose weight, and even though building muscle can help keep that up long-term, it’s still important to chip away at calories on a day-to-day basis. “Having a challenging cardiovascular routine helps in your caloric deficit,” says Tamir.
Moral of the story: Do both strength training and cardio, says Tamir. It’s important to include both types of training in a successful weight-loss plan. In general, Tamir recommends strength training three to four times a week for 45 to 60 minutes. “Strength training also gives you the ability to endure more during your aerobic training,” notes Tamir. “The stronger you are, the less effort it takes for you to complete aerobic exercise.”
This means you can increase your performance in cardio-based activities: “For example, having strong glutes for running helps you go faster for longer, which burns more calories. And doing exercises to strengthen your core can help you maintain form for biking, which can also help you burn more calories,” says Tamir.
So no need to ditch the dance cardio or treadmill workout—just throw some weights into your routine a few times a week, too.
written by SELF magazine
Don’t throw those browned bananas away:
The problem many of us have with bananas is how quickly they ripen – especially bananas from the organic aisle. Did you know that as bananas ripen and change color, their nutrient profile changes as well?
Regardless of color, bananas are a good source of potassium and vitamins, but as a banana gets browner, its concentration of antioxidants increases. Eating a brown banana can boost your antioxidant intake, helping your body protect itself against inflammation and free-radicals.
As bananas age, that resistant starch that acts as good dietary fiber begins to convert in simple sugars. A green banana is fiber-rich, and good for your gut bacteria, while a browner banana is sweeter, and may provide more carbohydrates than you think – one reason why it’s of recommended that Type-2 diabetics avoid the browner variety as a way of cutting back on sugar.
Those who aren’t counting carbs as closely, but who may suffer from irritable bowels may benefit from brown bananas, as much digestion is already done, and these fruits may cause less irritation for a sensitive digestive system.
Green bananas or brown?
So what bananas are best for you? Well, if you want to add fiber to your diet, or you’re looking to cultivate healthier microbial allies in your gut, greener bananas are best. If you want something a little sweeter, have a ripened banana – you also get the benefit of all those extra antioxidants.
If you don’t like the taste or texture of a browning banana, what should you do? You can throw overripe bananas into your freezer for longer storage. Some of us at AGS, store our over-ripe bananas in the freezer to use later in smoothies – a great way to sweeten the a health shake and bolster our antioxidant count! Or if you’re a baker, use them in banana-bread and cookies. Brown bananas can also liven up a bland dish like steel-cut oatmeal or plain Greek yogurt.
How often do we run into the gym for a quick workout? We are running late, and simply need to get it done, before we head to the next thing on our “to do” list. Many will run in and do these quick static stretches and they are actually not beneficial to your workout until after the workout has ended. There is a difference between stretching and warming up. Warming up is an essential part of your workout. Truth be known, without the proper warm up, we may be risking injury and less results from our workout.
In The Anatomy of a Great Warmup, Lauren Bedosky explains:
You do everything right for your health, from tracking food and eating nutrient-dense options to working out regularly, getting enough sleep and hydrating like a champ. (Well, maybe “mostly” on all of that, anyway.) But are you potentially missing a big health booster if you spend more time scrolling social media than hanging out?
Many people focus on taking care of themselves with all the sure-fire tactics but forget social connection is just as critical as food, movement and sleep, according to Emma Seppala, PhD, Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, and author of “The Happiness Track.”
“Research has shown that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure,” she says. “On the other hand, strong social connections can have huge benefits, and may even lengthen your life.”
Lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.
Here are numerous reasons why you need to use that smartphone to set up coffee dates and gym buddy time, rather than just scrolling through Instagram posts:
In a study done at Carnegie Mellon University, college freshmen were studied for their antibody response to the flu shot, based on their self-reported levels of loneliness and social network activity. Those who felt lonelier and had fewer real-life social connections had a worse antibody response to the vaccine.
Also, researchers added, loneliness was associated with poor sleep quality, which has often been linked to decreased immune system response.
When you’re out with friends, especially if you’re a hugger, you tend to be better at regulating your level of cortisol — the hormone most responsible for your stress response.
Even better, research has found simple human touch (or even petting an animal) can reduce pain as well as improve mental and emotional health, making it a plus for body and mind.
What’s good for your figurative heart is also beneficial for your literal one — forging deeper social connections can lower blood pressure, and that reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Improved blood pressure is partly due to lower cortisol levels, but loneliness also creates other stresses on the body, including increased inflammation, which can also be tough on the ticker. One study noted that poor social relationships were associated with a 29% increase in risk of coronary heart disease and a 32% increase in risk of stroke.
Despite all of these benefits, loneliness and isolation are on the rise in the United States, says Seppala, adding that it’s been estimated that up to a quarter of all Americans feel they have no one with whom they can share a personal problem. Social media can exacerbate this, because you can have 10,000 followers and still not feel like you have a single close friend.
Set up gym buddy time, rather than just scrolling through Instagram posts.
So, for the sake of your mental and physical health, start the process of going to the gym and asking others to join you. Find some good friends to workout with and you will begin to feel more alive than ever before.
adapted from Elizabeth Millard, myfitnesspal.com
As the temperature rises this summer, we want to strongly encourage you to drink plenty of water. Water is an essential nutrient that makes your body run smoothly and efficiently. Because the average adult’s body is about 65% water, it’s no wonder that we can only survive for about three to five days without it! Water transports nutrients and oxygen to cells, carries away waste products and lubricates our digestive tracts, joints and cartilage. The Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences suggests an adequate total fluid intake of about 13 cups per day for men and about 10 cups per day for women. (Keep in mind that you may need more or less, depending on activity level, body size and environment.)
As the foundation for all body functions, this zero-calorie drink is a liquid asset. Here are five reasons why you should make water your pal:
1. IT CURBS HUNGER AND PROMOTES SATIETY
The body’s “thirst center” in the brain, the hypothalamus, also regulates appetite. When you’re dehydrated, your body can perceive mixed signals on hunger, causing you to believe that you need to eat when you’re actually just thirsty. One study found that drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals helped subjects lose more weight. Hungry? Drink some water first. Staying hydrated can help you ward off fake hunger signals.
2. IT KEEPS YOUR MIND SHARP
In addition to being naturally calorie-free, sugar-free and caffeine-free, water helps transport oxygen to the brain to ensure it functions at optimum levels. Even mild dehydration can impact your cognitive performance, tamper with your mood and make you feel fatigued. These effects can lead to mindless stress eating, poor food choices and, ultimately, breaking the calorie bank. Next time you’re feeling spaced out, try drinking some cold water to zap the sluggishness out of you.
3. IT POWERS YOUR WORKOUTS
In addition to boosting your metabolism, water helps prevent muscle cramping, so you can work out harder and longer. Take note that your water needs increase after working out. During long endurance workouts, drink water with carbohydrates and electrolytes to help maintain fluid balance and prevent post-exercise exhaustion.
4. IT HELPS YOU STAY HEALTHY
From start to finish, water keeps your digestive system running smoothly. The saliva in your mouth contains water and digestive enzymes to break down your food. In your stomach, water balances the acidic environment to prevent ulcers, indigestion and heartburn. 2 glasses after waking up help activate your internal organs. 1 glass 30 minutes before a meal helps digestion. 1 glass before taking a shower helps lower blood pressure. And 1 glass before going to bed avoids stroke or heart attack.
5. IT HELPS YOU SAVE ON CALORIES
Liquid calories like juices and sodas don’t fill you up, and their high sugar content can cause insulin spikes that can set you up for a crash. According to this systematic review, drinking water in place of sugar-sweetened beverages resulted in less weight gain over a four-year period. If you want more pizzazz than plain water, try sparkling water, or give it a flavor makeover with berries, cucumbers, mint or grapefruit.
Finally, if for no other reason, drink plenty of water a day and you will avoid other people’s drama, because you will be too busy going to the bathroom!!
Drink up and stay hydrated, BlackWatch family!
Avocado Toast is getting much attention because of its fiber and healthy fats that help keep you full and satisfied. Avocados are also a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as several minerals. But what if you were able to add some protein to this delicious mix?
AVOCADO ENGLISH MUFFIN
Swap out basic toast for a Thomas’ Original English Muffin, paired with mashed avocado, a poached egg, and a little onion salt. If you want even more protein, add yourself some Canadian bacon or turkey bacon. And for an added kick, toss a dash of hot sauce on there!
This beauty is a great, easy-t0-make breakfast sandwich rocking only 300 calories, before adding the additional proteins.
So instead of grabbing something unhealthy on the go, take 5 minutes to make you this delicious and simple breakfast.
WHY YOU’LL BENEFIT FROM JOINING A GYM
We’ve all at some point in time made a decision to get fit. The problem is we never follow through with it, or it just seems to fade.
Statistics are staggering at the number of people who are either inactive or have very little physical activity. You don’t have to become a part of that statistic. If you need a little help to take action, read the top 8 reasons to join a gym and get moving.
1. Huge health benefits
It’s clear, but we’ll mention it anyway – going to the gym is good for your health and fitness! Put simply, during exercise we increase our cardiovascular fitness through strengthening our heart and lungs and we increase our strength through creating lean muscle. Many Departments of Health recommend five hours of moderate exercise per week, including muscle strengthening activities at least twice per week.
Studies show that regular exercise and an increase in strength and cardio fitness levels can help reduce the risk of health concerns and diseases, including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Diabetes (type II)
- Stress related illnesses
2. Access to equipment
One of the big advantages of joining a gym is the wide variety of equipment available, that keeps your exercise interesting. It might be intimidating at first, but you’ll find friendly experts on hand to help you use it all. Trust them – it’s all a lot simpler than it looks!
3. Make friends
The gym is a great way to be social and meet like-minded people. Group fitness classes will help you work towards your goals and are a fun way to make friends. You might find someone who loves strength training just as much as you! Once you connect with someone at your fitness level and appoint them as your official training buddy, you’ll be able to team up and partner in workouts for maximum results.
4. Access to knowledge
The best gyms have qualified, experienced personal trainers (many with health and sports-related degrees) on hand who can advise you on the best exercises and workouts for reaching your goals. They can give you individualised direction for your workouts in the gym, keeping you safe and motivating you along the way too.
5. Establish a healthy routine
One of the hurdles in committing to a gym membership is justifying the cost and how much you will use it. It’s easy to establish a healthy routine with a gym membership when you have the use of facilities regardless of rain, hail or shine outside. There’s no soggy ground to worry about, no dogs to hurdle when running and no risk of heat exhaustion on summer days. So flip that financial hurdle into a motivator, establish a routine and you’ll create a new healthy habit well worth the investment in no time.
6. Increased energy levels
One of the side effects of exercise is an increase in energy levels and enhanced mood, due to the release of natural, happy endorphins. There’s no better feeling than leaving the gym after a workout feeling energised and ready for whatever the day throws at you. If you’re looking for an extra spring in your step, it’s a great benefit of joining a gym!
7. Be challenged
When you work out at home alone, you do not tend to challenge yourself at all. Look to your gym to offer a targeted exercise program to help you achieve long-term and life-changing results. From strength training to cardio boot camps to fun challenges, a gym will mix it up and provide challenges that you would never participate in at home.
8. Be motivated
You either love exercise or you have to drag yourself along to get it done! If you’re one of the latter, heading to the gym and being around others who are in the same situation as you can be just the incentive and motivation you need to keep going. You might even find yourself converting into an exercise lover when you’re heading to the gym on a more regular basis, hitting your fitness goals and seeing results on the inside and out!
adapted from Emily Doughty
Let’s be honest. The holidays can take a serious toll on our health. From extra stress and lack of sleep to indulging in sweets, our waistlines can begin to expand and out goals can start to fall by the wayside.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Like anything else in life, having a plan helps. If you’ve already done some holiday damage, it’s time to get back on track! Check out our 7 ways to stay healthy during the holidays and you’ll enter the New Year feeling energized and motivated to reach new goals.
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Drinking water may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s an easy thing to let slip. In between shopping trips or while you’re grazing the snack table at holiday parties — take a moment to hydrate. Keeping out bellies full with H20 (and not candy) can go a long way in terms of reaching our goals and keeping holiday weight gain at bay!
2. Keep your long-term goals in mind
What’s your “why” for staying healthy? Is it to improve your fitness? To reach a new level of stamina? Or, to stay healthy for your kids? Whatever your long-term goal is, keep it in mind when you feel like reaching for that second (or third) serving. Our goals are what motivate us and keep us on track.
3. Keep an eye on portions
One cookie won’t hurt you. Ten cookies? That can do some damage. Keep your portions in check during the holidays — making sure you only indulge a little. Think about all the hard work you’ve done up until this point. It would be a shame to let your progress unravel over a few weeks.
4. Schedule your workout plan in advance
This is the time of year when planning is paramount. If you’re worried about getting off your workout schedule, then take time to put it on your calendar every day. Or, better yet, find an accountability buddy who will call or text — making sure that you get to the gym.
5. Set realistic goals
It’s important to realize that we might get off track (a little) during the holidays. But, it’s also important not to set lofty goals and totally deprive ourselves of little pleasures. This kind of thinking has the potential to set us up for failure if we miss the mark. Set realistic goals this season, and allow yourself to partake in the merriment!
6. Take time to rest
Sleep is your friend during this season. When we sleep, we recover from the day before and reset our internal batteries for the next. Just like any other time of the year, getting a full 8 hours of sleep is important to staying healthy and reaching our health and fitness goals.
7. Get your cardio in while shopping!
Don’t have time to workout because you have to get gifts for family and friends? No worries. Park a little farther away from the store, take the stairs and get your heart rate up while you shop! You’d be surprised how many calories you can burn by taking a few extra steps every day.
Kids and weights — do they go together? Unless those weights are book bags, the most common answer is “no.” New studies, however, are pointing to a different answer.
By participating in resistance training, children can essentially get a leg-up on muscular fitness early in life. And, even though most parents know this, plenty of myths are still out there. We all agree that physical activity is good for our kids, but once weights come into the picture, hesitation sets in.
Aside from improving muscular strength, resistance training affords children the opportunity to practice movement skills and establish long-term physical development.
If you’re still on the fence about youth resistance training, let us dispel some rumors for you. Here are 5 myths you might have heard:
1. Resistance training can stunt child growth
Why it’s false: There’s no scientific evidence to support that resistance training stunts growth. If well-designed and supervised, resistance training can actually improve bone growth and development.
2. It’s unsafe
Why it’s false: Like any other intense physical activity, resistance training is only unsafe if it’s unsupervised. You wouldn’t let your child practice resistance training without an experienced coach just like you wouldn’t let your child play contact football without a helmet. Although accidents can happen, the key is in providing qualified instruction.
3. Youth need to be at least 12 years old to lift weight
Why it’s false: The only true requirement for youth resistance training is the ability to listen and follow instruction. When children are ready for organized sports — which usually happens at around age 7 or 8 — then they are ready to to be exposed to resistance training in a safe environment.
4. It makes girls bulky
Why it’s false: The only true effect of resistance training in young females is getting stronger — and that’s a good thing. While girls and boys react differently to this type of training, there is little evidence that resistance training will make girls bulky. Especially if the training is light and done daily, the outcome will be ideal.
5. Resistance training is only for young athletes
Why it’s false: Regular practice in resistance training can benefit any child — even those who are not on an athletic team. Resistance training builds strength for healthier body composition and improved physical skills. In fact, because the benefits are so many, resistance training is an encouraged behavior for children.
We hope this helped dispel some of the myths about youth resistance training. If you have any more questions, reach out to us and we will be more than happy to tell you about our programs and how they can improve your child’s physical strength.
(Content curated from this article)