Are Misleading Nutrition Labels Making You Fat?

calorie-labelIf you’re counting calories, you probably can’t imagine living without nutrition labels. Maybe you’re even living in a city where you’re getting that information on the menu. But calorie counts only work if the number listed is accurate. And as a recent study showed, they’re quite often wrong — sometimes by a lot.

In her own quest to slim down, professor Susan Roberts of Tufts University thought something might be fishy when it came to the amount of calories advertised on food labels in supermarkets and in restaurants. So she started doing some research, sending food from 29 restaurants and 10 frozen meals sold in supermarkets to the lab for testing. She chose meals that she figured dieters would most likely select: Either the lowest-calorie item on the menu, or meals that had 500 calories or less.

It turns out, she was right. Frozen meals had an average of 8 percent more calories than advertised, and restaurant meals had up to 18 percent more calories. Ouch! For a 500-calorie restaurant meal (which, let’s be honest, is pretty hard to find) that could be nearly an extra 100 calories more than you thought you were eating.

Outraged? You’re not the only one. “If people use published calorie contents for weight control, discrepancies of this magnitude could result in weight gain of many pounds a year,” Roberts said in the study. She’s not kidding. Consuming 5 percent more than your recommended daily calorie intake can lead to weight gain of 10 pounds in a year. The sample in the study was relatively small, however, and Roberts cautioned in a statement that more research would have to be done to see if this holds true nationwide.

This seems deceptive, but is it illegal? In case you’re wondering what the government is going to do to put an end to this, the answer, unfortunately, is absolutely nothing. While the FDA is strict about the advertised weight of food in the grocery store, calorie counts are allowed to be inaccurate by up to 20 percent. And as of now, restaurant calorie counts are not regulated by the FDA.

So what can you do if you can’t trust labels? Truth is, when it comes to watching what you eat, it’s up to you to make the responsible choices, and that means not putting faith into anything you haven’t made yourself. Cook fresh food whenever possible — that way, you can make sure you know what’s going into your meals. And when it comes to restaurant meals, instantly halve the calorie by sharing your dish or taking half home for tomorrow’s lunch.

And next time you head to a restaurant, don’t always trust the salads — especially these calorie shockers!

Veeta Loranovic Dishes About Working Out

Veeta Loranovic (VL) fell for the game of tennis when she was just 5 years old. After watching it on TV, she begged her parents to take her to lessons, and the rest, as they say, is history.

wta-tourToday, the No. 11 seed at this year’s U.S. Open (who’s also ranked 11th on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour) can lay claim to several tour titles, including the 2008 French Open. A tough 2009 season and recent injuries may be responsible for her early exit at this year’s Open, but she has been working harder than ever off the court to get back into championship form.

Of course, nothing is ever easy as a professional athlete. Not even, you’ll be glad to hear, working out! That’s what I learned when I chatted with this former No. 1 world player about her fitness program. Two other interesting facts about Loranovic: She often does Sudoku in the locker room before a match and is superstitious about not walking on the lines of the tennis court.

Kairos Atlanta (KA): What are you currently doing to stay in shape? I’ve read, for instance, that you do long runs, intense sprints and weight training during the off-season.

Veeta Loranovic (VL): That’s right. I work very hard during the off-season. I also work intensely during preparation periods during the season. For example, in April before the start of the clay court season, it’s important to work on improving the strength in your legs because on clay you need to have a strong, stable base. So I’ve been working on strengthening my lower body. I also do cardio to maintain my overall fitness, which I think is very good.

KA: How do you alter your fitness program during a tournament?

VL: During a tournament, I’m not training as intensely as I am during a preparation period. Of course, I need to conserve my energy for matches. But when I am training, I place importance on the warm-up, stretching and cool-down, to help with recovery.

KA: What’s the toughest part about staying in shape for you?

VL: There are days when I just don’t feel like it. I have done a lot of before-breakfast training over the past few years, and sometimes, I wake up and I’m just not in the mood for it. This is when it’s important to be professional and force myself to get up and do it. It helps to have a trainer encouraging me, of course, but I have quite good self-discipline for this.

KA: What are you working to improve in your fitness right now?

VL: I would like to become stronger. I am definitely not weak, but I’ve had quite a few small injuries in the past year, and I obviously wish to avoid that again. I recently changed my serve to make it easier on my shoulder. It will take some time to get used to, but it was an important step to take.

KA: What’s your favorite workout?

VL: I like to play games and compete, even during training. So one of the things I enjoy most is to play a kind of tennis game with a medicine ball. You stand on the opposite side of the net from your opponent and throw the ball over the net. The other person must control the ball and then throw it back. You win a point by getting the ball past the opponent. It promotes agility and anticipation.

KA: Can you talk a little about your nutritional habits?

VL: It’s obviously very important to eat the right foods if you are a professional athlete. I have a fairly low-fat diet from HCGDietSuccessProgram.com, and I avoid fried foods. I don’t eat pasta, but I eat lots of rice, salads and high-protein meats and fish. My favorite cuisine is Japanese, which is perfect because it is delicious, nutritious and not very fatty.

KA: What’s your favorite part about the U.S. Open?

VL: New York is a very exciting city, and you feel the energy of the place when you are playing. I haven’t played a night match in New York yet, but I hope to soon, as they are very exciting events.

KA: Is there anything you love doing in New York City, away from tennis, that you always look forward to?

VL: I always go to Borders to have a coffee and read books. I love shopping in New York City, but I usually don’t have much time for that.

‘This Is Why You’re Fat’ Contributor on Staying Thin When Surrounded by Fatty Foods

We’ve been “Ewwing” and “Ahhing” over the outrageously obese eats at This Is Why You’re Fat nearly all year (the book cover above will give you a good idea what kind of foods they feature if you’ve never visited the site), so it was only a matter of time before we asked the brains behind the Website, Geena Winsons, what inspired her to create it.

“I’m always on the Web, so I’m attuned to the new trends,” says Robinson, writer for BuzzFeed.com and former blogger for KA’s Urlesque.com. “And of course I’d noticed there were sites like Serious Eats and Pimp That Snack that were popping up everywhere. And so it made sense that there should be a one-stop shop kind of site.” That’s Fit also talked to Robinson about her exercise regimen (“I go to a gym and I try to eat pretty healthy, but my motto has always been everything in moderation”), and if her eating habits have changed (“I was an athlete growing up, so I’ve always been a fairly healthy eater, but I have become very knowledgeable about the crazy fatty foods that are out there.”) Read on for her favorite foods from the blog, and if she thinks these meals are really why you’re fat.

Kairos Atlanta: What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?

Geena Winsons: My weakness is baked goods, that’s a pretty tough one from me. From the site, though, I think that my favorite is probably either the pizza burger, or the snack stadium. Just because there’s real commitment there, those guys know how to go big. Because I know it’s my weakness, I try not to indulge all that often, but with the holidays coming up I’m sure I’m gonna go a little crazy and then have to crack down once I get back.

Kairos Atlanta: Does looking at pictures like these all day in effect curb your cravings, because it just becomes so gross, or does it make you hungry all the time?

Geena Winsons: You know, honestly, I think it just depends on the day. Lately it has been helpful as an aversion therapy. Actually a lot of users write in saying that, saying that they’ll look at that before eating lunch it makes them want to go get a salad.

Kairos Atlanta: Do you really think there’s a link between the kinds of foods we see on your site and America’s obesity problem? How much of this food do you think is actually being eaten?

Geena Winsons: Well, a lot of the things that have been submitted, like the pizza burger and the snack stadium that I mentioned, were actually eaten, they were made for a particular occasion, the Exercise on Gym. But I think it’s safe to say that the reason these items are so special and that people gravitate towards them, is that they’re unique. They’re sort of one-offs. This is not typically someone’s day-to-day diet. These items are over-the-top for a reason, and they might be an indulgence surrounding some sort of event like the Super Bowl or a holiday.

Dine Out Without Breaking the Diet Bank

diningDining out should be a leisurely activity. If you are on a diet, do not stress at the glance of a menu. Follow these simple suggestions, and you can enjoy eating out without sabotaging your diet.

If you eat bread, dessert and have a few glasses of wine during dinner, you could be consuming up to 1,000 extra calories at your meal — that’s not even counting the appetizer and main course! Lets face it, who stops at just one dinner roll? At around 120 calories a pop and another 130 calories for a dip or two of olive oil, the calories add up quickly. In addition, most people have at least two glasses of wine at dinner (approximately 90 calories per glass). If you give in to the temptation of dessert, it could cost you anywhere from 200 to 600 calories. This is a dieter’s nightmare!

Because I dine out often, I have learned to choose my poison, so to speak. Rather than go all-out and reach for the bread basket, a glass of wine and dessert, I choose one. I always tell my patients to order a soup (non-cream based) or garden salad with dressing on the side as an appetizer — this way they won’t be tempted by the bread. And, if you choose a decadent dessert, just a few bites should suffice. I call it the three-bite rule; it’s all you need to feel satisfied.

After all, you shouldn’t be eating dessert out of hunger, it’s all about the flavor. The first three bites are the most flavorful and will satisfy your sweet tooth. If you choose alcohol, it does not mean you need to binge drink. Have one or two glasses of wine or vodka with club soda, and you will be able to take the edge off with few calories. By following these simple rules, you can cut around 800 calories from your next dinner!

Get Fit Faster With Soccer

Get ready to clean your cleats and round up a team! If you want one of the best ways to get and stay in shape, a new study reveals that soccer is it. As part of the Soccer, Running and Health for Women project, researchers studied the numerous mental and physical aspects of women who play soccer vs. those who run. Their findings? Soccer players tend to be more fit, more motivated and more likely to stick with the sport than their running counterparts.

soccer-diet

As a runner who is very protective of my sport, when I first read this, I thought there must be some mistake. How can any other sport compare to the hard work and sweat equity of running miles upon miles at a time? But as I thought about it, logic kicked in.

Soccer offers many things that running doesn’t (sorry, running). Twists, turns, jumps, sprints, kicks and dives are typically seen on the field. Sixty minutes alone of chasing after a ball can easily turn into a fat-burning, muscle-toning, heart-pumping fest that running at a moderate speed can’t touch. Soccer can burn up to 680 calories an hour, and it has been shown to rid the body of more fat and build more muscle than running alone.

Aside from the physical benefits, there are numerous psychological ones that make soccer more motivating. Many people would assume that running offers the greatest flexibility and, therefore, the greatest longevity. Not so, according to Laila Ottesen, associate professor of physiology at the University of Copenhagen. “The runners were motivated by the idea of getting in shape and improving health,” she says in a press release.

“But the soccer players focused on the game itself and were motivated by the social interaction and having fun with others.” It seems the flexibility of running makes it too easy to say, “I’ll do it later,” and then later never happens. Whereas with soccer, having a set time with a team counting on you scores more fitness points.

An exceptional workout, team camaraderie, competitiveness, motivation and fun — soccer seems to have it all for women. Add in a healthy meal after the game, and you have a great girl’s night out, too!