Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Foods for Fat Loss

It’s true; you really can fight fat with food. All you need to do is to make the right food choices. And, the best way to do that is to focus on the best foods to eat. The foods that help promote fat loss.

Take carbohydrates for example. I know, recent diet lore would tell you that carbohydrates are enemy #1 but that’s wrong. Carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for the body throughout evolution. However, the carb problem is two-fold; we choose the “wrong kind” and we “over indulge” in that choice.

The carbohydrates that should be off your list are the ones that come from things like candies, or cake. The processed snack crackers, cereals and chips. These will get you fat. Instead, choose carbohydrates like whole-grain pasta, brown rice, oats, sweet potatoes, peas, & corn. While you may think these are vegetables, they are actually categorized as starchy carbohydrates. The less they are processed, the better.

Choosing the right proteins is also important. Chicken makes an excellent source of protein. Chicken breast meat is quite lean in comparison to the thigh or the wings. Whitefish and salmon are also good. And while Salmon is a fatty fish, remember that it contains the good fats such as omega-3 fatty acids.

You can also choose from lean beef or bison, lean turkey and eggs. Do limit egg yolk consumption though. Even though they also contain good fats, it's very easy to over-consume egg yolk because of their small size.

The proteins to avoid would be pork because it is high in saturated fats. Better yet; eliminate all reconstituted meats such as chicken nuggets or deli meats and definitely avoid fast foods.

Fruits and vegetables are important, too! And some of the best vegetables you can eat are green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, garlic, and onions. These are fibrous foods that contain plenty of antioxidants and phyto-nutrients.

So what about dessert? Well, low calorie desserts and portion control is the key. Try having a dessert that you can have a piece of fruit with. That way you can still have a taste of the decadent but temper it with something healthy and beneficial.

Some examples of good fruit choices are apples, kiwi, peach, strawberries, pears, pineapples, berries and watermelon. Just remember that while good for health, fruits do contain fructose (sugar). So, if you're really trying to lose fat, you may want to reduce or limit your servings to no more than three servings per day.

As I said before good fats are important. Concentrate on getting them from sources like extra virgin olive oil, almonds and walnuts. Or, use fish oil tablets. The fats to reduce or eliminating are the wrong kinds of fats like butter, cheese and sauces that heavily increase your overall calories.

Enjoy Your Life,

John Aaron Villarreal

The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Eat Well: Low Carb Cauliflower Leek Soup

Want something to keep you warm and lean on a cold winter's night? Here's a simple yet tasty alternative to potato leek soup. Great for those watching their carbs or calories, or just looking for a different vegetarian soup that tastes delicious.  I'll admit, I served it with hearty, toasted pumpernickel bread, but I made up for the caliroes by omitting the "optional" heavy cream in this recipe.

Ingredients Needed:
Makes twelve servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
3 leeks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large head cauliflower, chopped
8 cups vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream (optional)

1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat, and saute the leeks, cauliflower, and garlic for about 10 minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 45 minutes.

2. Remove the soup from heat. Blend the soup with an immersion blender or hand mixer. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in the heavy cream, and continue blending until smooth.

Prep: 15 mins / Cook: 1 hr / Ready: 1 hr 15 mins

Amount Per Serving - Calories: 155 / Total Fat: 13.1g / Cholesterol: 35mg / Sodium: 387mg / Total Carbs: 8.3g / Dietary Fiber: 2.5g / Protein: 2.4g

Recipe from

Eat Well and as always – Enjoy Living,

The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How Much Fat do You Need?

Ok. If you've been keeping up with my posts then you know that there are certain fats needed in order to maintain a healthy active body. But when it comes to designing your nutritional program, how much of this stuff do you really need? Most dieticians and government regulated nutritional organizations suggest that 20 to 30% of your total daily calories should come from “good fat” sources.

To help you, here are a couple of tips on how you can accomplish this:

Try adding 2 tablespoons of extra Virgin olive oil to your meal by roasting your vegetables in it. I love this! Place a peeled sweet potato, beets, carrots and celery (all cut into chunks & wedges) in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and toss with a little salt, pepper and roast on a rimmed baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes (or until vegetables are at your desires tenderness). However, do NOT add oil to a meal if you are already planning to eat a fish like salmon which is already rich in good fats.

If you do not like olive oil or oily fish, keep eating your grilled meats and vegetables but try adding another source of good fats (like nuts) to your menu. In this case, about 2 Tablespoons of chopped almonds or walnuts three times a day with each meal should do the trick.

You can also take an essential fatty acid supplement that contains the omega threes (like fish oil tablets). Follow the suggested dose of capsules recommended by the manufacturer, your dietician or personal physician.

Now that we have revealed the truth that healthy fat loss does NOT mean you need to stop eating fat, look for my next posting where I will suggest the kinds of “thermogenic” foods that you can eat in order to reduce body flab….

And always – Enjoy Living,

John Aaron Villarreal

The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Body, Mind and Food Connection

There's no doubt about it; your body and mind are directly linked. What you think about has a clear effect on your health and vice versa. In fact, there’s a fascinating study that suggests that the mind-body connection is quite powerful.

Publishing their findings in the online journal Health Psychology, researchers at Yale University focused on ghrelin levels in the body to determine how thoughts affect the body's response to food.

Ghrelin is also known as the "hunger" hormone. It sends a signal to your brain that makes you want to eat. If your body's ghrelin levels are high, you'll tend to overeat... even if you are already feeling full. Likewise, low ghrelin levels are associated with feelings of satiety and not needing to eat more. Typically, ghrelin levels increase before meals and decrease after eating.

The researchers recruited volunteers and divided them into two groups:

Group 1 - received a milkshake that they were told was a 620-calorie "indulgent" shake.
Group 2 - received a milkshake that they were told was a 140-calorie "sensible" shake.

In reality, both groups got the same exact shake, which came in at 380 calories.

The result? The test group volunteers convinced they had received the decadent, fattier shake had a notable decline in ghrelin levels. Whereas; the group that believed they consumed the healthier alternative showed a neutral ghrelin response.

“This study shows that mindset can affect feelings of physical satiety. The brain was tricked into either feeling full or feeling unsatisfied. That feeling depended on what people believed they were consuming, rather than what they actually were consuming,” said Alia J. Crum, the study’s lead author.

“What was most interesting,” Crum added, “is that the results were somewhat counterintuitive. Consuming the shake thinking it was ‘indulgent’ was healthier than thinking it was ‘sensible.’ It led to a sharper reduction in ghrelin.”

Pretty amazing, right!?

The mere perception of what you're eating has a direct effect on your body. How's that for "food for thought?"

Now, the downside is that you can’t just drink a 600+ calorie shake and “think” it into being a healthy food choice. You must stop eating poor quality, low nutrient foods in favor of better alternatives. However, for your next meal, try this little experiment for yourself. See if you can get yourself to change the perception of what you're eating...

Imagine the possibilities... indulgent chicken salads... hearty protein shakes... and exquisite veggies.

Well, that's all for today. Keep up those good eating and exercise habits... and make sure to use this neat little Jedi "mind trick" this holiday season.

Oh, and a BIG happy early Thanksgiving to you!

Enjoying life,

John Aaron Villarreal
Facebook / Twitter

And by the way... if you're serious about taking your overall health and fitness to the next level before the New Year, why not take advantage of your FREE Fitness Consultation from my guys over at Muscle Mechanics Training Studio? An $87 value, this consult will give you detailed information on how to get fit and trim in a way that's tailored to YOUR body. There's no obligation and it's totally and completely free. To contact them, click this link.

[1] Crum, Alia J.; Corbin, William R.; Brownell, Kelly D.; Salovey, Peter, “Mind over milkshakes: Mindsets, not just nutrients, determine ghrelin response.” Health Psychology, May 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Eat Well: Grilled Chicken Breast with Cucumber and Pepper Relish

This recipe is simple, great tasting and makes enough to serve four. You can even save leftovers for a deliciously healthy lunch the next day Give it a try tonight!

Supplies Needed:
1 cucumber - peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/8 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1. In a medium bowl, prepare the relish by mixing together the cucumber, parsley, chopped onion, bell pepper, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, mix the cumin and chili powder with the olive oil. Rub the mixture onto the chicken, and place in a shallow dish. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.

3. Prepare the grill for medium heat.

4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill chicken 8 minutes per side, or until juices run clear. Serve with cucumber relish.

Prep: 15 mins / Cook: 15 mins / Ready: 1 hr 30 mins
Amount Per Serving - Calories: 205 / Total Fat: 9.8g / Cholesterol: 67mg / Sodium: 62mg / Total Carbs: 3.2g / Dietary Fiber: 0.7g / Protein: 25.2g

Recipe from:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Protecting Your Heart

No muscle in your body works harder than you heart. That's why you should always strive to take good care of it!

But - What's the best way to do that?

Well, I'm sure you've already had it pounded into your head that working out and eating right are the first two major steps to protecting your 'ticker,' but here's something you probably haven't heard:

A simple essential mineral can practically "bulletproof" your heart against disaster (and disease).

I'm talking about magnesium. So what exactly can this commonly overlooked mineral do for you?

A study in the American Heart Journal found that magnesium is incredibly effective at slashing the risk of sudden cardiac death.

In fact, the researchers found that folks with high amounts of magnesium circulating in their bloodstream are 41 percent less likely to die of a sudden heart disaster. [1]

But that's not all...

A study published in the Journal of Hypertension links low magnesium levels to the development of heart disease (the formation of plaque on the inner lining of your arterial walls). [2]

On the other hand, if you get plenty of magnesium, you're in luck.

The University of Virginia School of Medicine studied over 7,000 men for 30 years. After the long study, researchers concluded that the intake of dietary magnesium is associated with a significantly reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

In fact, the men in the study that had the lower intake of magnesium had a 50-100 percent GREATER chance of developing heart disease than those with higher intakes.[3]

Bottom line? Get your magnesium!

The USDA reports that 68 percent of Americans don't get enough - and that's just for the basic Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for magnesium.

The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) states that "...many people may not have enough body stores of magnesium because dietary intake may not be high enough. Having enough body stores of magnesium may be protective against disorders such as cardiovascular disease and immune dysfunction."

Magnesium is not only important to protect your heart - it's involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps bones strong, and even keeps your heart rhythm steady.

No, I’m not here to “Sell” you anything. In fact, magnesium supplements are so common-place, you can probably find it at your local grocery store. But if you need a place to go, try my friend Fred Walters at Expert Nutrition.

Start off with 200mg a day. Taking too much may have a laxative effect. Other than that, there are no reported dangers according to the National Institutes of Health. [4]

You can also get your daily quota of magnesium by eating plenty of legumes (beans) and dark, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale.

And by the way ... if you're serious about taking your overall health and fitness to the next level, why not consider my guys at Muscle Mechanics and take advantage of your FREE Fitness Consultation? (an $87 value)

During this consult, you'll receive detailed information on how to get fit and trim that's tailored to YOUR body.

There's no obligation and it's totally and completely free. To sign up, click here

And always – Live Your Life Well!

John Aaron Villarreal

The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.

[1] Peacock JM. Serum magnesium and risk of sudden cardiac death in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. American Heart Journal. 2010;160: 464-470.
[2] Adrian M. A long-term moderate magnesium-deficient diet aggravates cardiovascular risks associated with aging and increases mortality in rats. Journal of Hypertension. 2008;26:44-52.
[3] Abbott, RD, American Journal of Cardiology, Sep 2003; 92 (6):665-9.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Why Choose Low-Fat Foods?

So most fitness trainers believe that the only way to make certain you were eating the "right amount" of food was to count calories. And, in some respects (like competitive bodybuilding) this is true. However, it is not just the quantity of calories that is important, it's the quality of those calories consumed that really matters for overall health. The old adage "a calorie is a calorie" isn't true.

A gram of fat yields more than twice as many calories as a gram of carbohydrates or protein - that's not new. What is new is that studies now indicate that calorie for calorie, fat is more fattening (duh).

In one study, two groups of people were fed the same number of calories per day but with different amounts of fat. After several months, the group that was fed a larger percent-age of the calories from fat gained more weight than the group on the lower fat diet.

The explanation has to do with metabolic efficiency. Since dietary fat is already fat, it converts to body fat much quicker and more easily than does carbohydrate or protein. If you eat a 100 calorie pat of butter, which is 100% fat, only 3 of those calories are needed to "break down" the fat. The remaining 97 calories head for storage in the fat cells.

Evolution has primed our bodies to store fat as a survival mechanism. In fact, we can store enough fat to provide for two to three months of starvation. On the other hand, our bodies store only enough carbohydrates to last a few days at most.

Most health professionals recommend that you keep your fat intake below 30 percent of your total calories. Learning to read labels helps you determine what the fat content of a food is. Use this knowledge to make informed choices with regard to the quality of calories you consume.

And always – Live Your Life Well!

John Aaron Villarreal

The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The fat in Your Basket

So you may already know that a healthy diet contains 30 percent fat or less, but how can you apply this guideline when grocery shopping?

Well, the choices you make at the grocery store are an integral part of your lifestyle.   And, like I mentioned previously, reading labels is the most helpful tool for determining the fat con¬tent of foods you see on the store shelves. However, food labeling practices have been inconsistent, leaving many consumers confused and frustrated.

The components of food labels are required to include the following:

  • Serving sizes that realistically reflect the amount an average person actually eats. Previously, a manufacturer could reduce the portion size to make a food qualify as low-calorie.
  •  The number of calories per gram of fat (including a breakdown specifically for saturated fat), carbohydrate and protein should be listed as well as the number of grams of fiber.
  •  The "% Daily Value" shows the consumer how this food fits into an overall healthy diet. For instance, one serving of this product provides 20% of the recommended fat intake for a 2,000 calorie diet.

And, at the bottom of the label are guidelines for what constitutes a healthy diet.

Of course, balance is the key to your decision-making. Sometimes even low-fat recipes may call for ingredients which are higher than the recommended 30 percent fat or a completed recipe may end up higher than 30 percent. Your goal is to shoot for an average of 30 percent fat over the course of the day or week.

Plan a weekly menu that is low in fat and build your shopping list around that menu. Once your menu is planned, head to the grocery store with a detailed list, naming specific items and amounts.

With a well-planned menu, detailed shopping list, calculator and some nutritional savvy, you can translate your new knowledge into a cart full of healthy food choices that will satisfy all the members of your family.

As always – Live Your Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal

Facebook / Twitter

The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Leaning Out with Labels

Last time I wrote about the importance of using a grocery list to help you avoid the temptation for less than nutritious foods while grocery shopping. Today, I want to mention the importance of using a simple tool like foods labels to help you make informed decisions on what your product actually contains.

Generally means that the food contains no (or negligible amounts of) fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugar or calories

Lean and extra lean:
This is a term used to describe an item that has limits on the fat content of certain meats, poultry, seafood and game meats

Marketing that uses the term "light" or "lite" mean that the products' calories have been reduced by at least a third or the fat by at least half from original product

Percent fat free:
This is easily the most confusing term of the lot. Describes the percentage of a food's weight that is fat free; now this term may ONLY be used on foods that are lowfat or fat free to begin with

Regardless of what you choose to put into your grocery cart, take some time to familiarize yourself with these terms and perhaps you will be able to improve your success rate for weight loss and healthy nutrition.

As always – Live Your Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal

Facebook / Twitter

The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,

cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.