Sep 4, 2016

Back to Healthy and Fit Grocery Shopping

Last weekend (Saturday, August 27), some of the La Quinta World Gym RockFit folks met me at
The Awesome RockFit Gang at Trader Joe's in La Quinta
Trader Joe's in La Quinta, California to grasp a better understanding on how to grocery shop for health and fitness.

While we had an awesome time, there were many great questions, comments and concerns that arose –– even a few that I was unable to address.

So, in an effort to ensure that my "fitness class" always gets the best, I've decided to research, clarify, and/or expand upon some of them (TEN areas*) at the end of this blog post.

This is not only to show my gratitude for those that made this fitness class so much fun, but I'd like to share this valuable information with my fitness clients (past, present and future) here in the desert, as well as anyone interested in losing body fat and gaining health. 

In the meantime, below is the "Healthy and Fit Grocery-Shopping Guide" that I had prepared for World Gym, which will reflect some minor adjustments.

What should I eat?

One of the most common questions I get asked as a fitness expert is this: “What should I eat?”

While it is a great question, the answer is that cleaning up your calories are more important than decreasing them. It is the first and most important step you must take if you truly want to lose body fat and gain health.

So what does it mean to “clean up your calories?” Well, it basically means consuming “GOOD FOODS” that will are ensure your success, while eliminating those that are detrimental to health and fitness.

Even as the chart below will provide a good base, this "Healthy and Fit Grocery-Shopping Guide” will provide more details on how to choose quality foods.
  • Clean and pure foods — natural, fresh, organic, and "animal friendly"
  • Lean, healthy, fibrous, and alive foods
  • Natural foods created for human consumption
  • Carefully chosen man-made or man-manipulated foods
  • Beware of packaged and processed foods items

To be a little more specific, below (after the water break) you'll find a condensed version of what to eat (“GOOD FOODS"); however, everyone has different tastes. So the more you increase your health, fitness and nutritional knowledge, the more variety you’ll enjoy in your diet. Moreover, make sure you enlist your children into this adventure. The sooner our youth learn healthy and fit habits, the better!

If you are a vegan or vegetarian, just use the tips that apply to you. Also know your food allergies. The most common are dairy products, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, strawberries, gluten, wheat, and soy.

As far as liquid consumption, it is critical to stay hydrated. So, DRINK WATER ALL DAY EVERY DAY! And, be cautious with the other beverages that you consume.


Another key question circulating ideal health and fitness this: How much water should I drink each day?

First, while most are aware that water is vital to life (it is an important as oxygen) it is also critical for health and fitness. In fact, the "human body is made up largely of water" (50 to 70% of body weight) and "water serves a number of essential functions to keep us all going."

Keep in mind, "Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water," notes the Mayo Clinic.
How much water, then?  
The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day.
Other fitness gurus and experts such as Jillian Michaels recommend this:
There is no real one-size-fits-all approach to water consumption. As a general rule of thumb, men should consume 128 ounces of water daily, and women should consume 88 ounces, but this doesn't mean you need to drink this amount of water every day. Other beverages, as well as the moisture content of foods, also count toward your water intake.

Here at you'll find a way simple way to "Calculate Your Recommended Water Intake!"

Keep in mind that environment and intense exercise will alter your water requirements. Also, you may need to consume more water if you take medications, consume alcohol, or are on an "extra-low carb" diet plan.


GOOD FOODS Bullet Point Presentation: 
  • Fresh-water fish (with fins and scales)
  • Organic free-range and grass-fed animal meats (beef, poultry, turkey)
  • Eggs from organic, free-range, vegetarian-fed hens
  • Organic low- to no-fat dairy products that are also low in sugar
  • Plant protein sources such as fresh or even canned legumes as well as raw and unsalted nuts and seeds *The controversy surrounding eating raw almonds
  • Plant protein products that are lean and pure
  • Organic whole grains
  • Grain products that are sprouted, stone ground (baked, never fried)
  • Organic (if possible) fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Fresh and untainted herbs and spices
  • Extra-virgin olive oil and other unrefined vegetable oils
  • All-natural, low-fat and healthy spreads, sauces, sweeteners, salad dressings, and dips
  • All-natural, low-fat and smart diet cheats (gluten-free is a good idea)

21 Tips to Healthy & Fit Grocery Shopping

My new best friends!
#1. Try your BEST to choose your meats, eggs and dairy products from "animal friendly" sources (organic, free range, cage-free and grass-fed animals), while your fruits and vegetables should be natural, fresh and organic. This may mean that you spend a little more money and make more trips to the grocery store, but it most likely will lead to fewer visits to the doctor’s office.

#2. If possible, try shopping at a natural, healthy food store or a health-conscious grocery store. This helps you pick healthy and fit foods. Great places to shop are Trader Joe's, Sprouts Farmers Market, and Whole Foods Market; however, some of your basic supermarkets will work as well.

#3. Support your local organic farmer, of which, these days you can find their fresh produce at some major supermarkets.

*A great point was made that it IS best to get fruits and vegetables that are in season

#4. Do not go to the grocery store when you are hungry. This might cause you to break down and buy everything –– even bad foods.

#5. In order to make grocery shopping easier and efficient, bring your lists, which should include the following:
  • Healthy and fit meal plans for the whole family
  • Healthy and fit recipes that even the kids can enjoy 

#6. Know that it is the outside aisles that store all the fresh produce as well as meats, dairy and other foods that require refrigeration. This is where most of your “GOOD FOODS” are located.

#7. Liquid consumption can make or break your diet when you are trying to shed those unwanted fat pounds. Obviously, whether diet or regular, sodas are a huge issue for your health. While there is nothing wrong with coffee or tea (in fact they have value), most man-made beverages today contain tons of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and other “poisonous” ingredients. So, be very selective when choosing what you drink. This includes flavored water, tea, juice (both veggie and fruit) as well as protein, energy, sports and health drinks.  

*There were some questions surrounding the consumption of alcohol and its impact on fat-loss
*One person wanted a little more advice on making her own protein shake/smoothie

#8. Energy and food bars are another “trick” of the health and fitness trade. Considering that most (not all) are glorified candy bars, use caution when buying them.

#9. Fresh wild salmon, halibut, or snapper are great sources of protein. Poultry choices should be lean (skinless chicken breasts and lean ground turkey). Due to its high fat content, even lean beef should be limited to once or twice per month. NOTE: "From an 8-ounce serving of cooked filet mignon, you'll get 25 grams of fat, or 225 calories from fat. From this amount, you'll get 9.8 grams of saturated fat, 10 grams of monounsaturated fat and 0.9 grams of polyunsaturated fat."

#10. Skip the deli section unless you know what is in the pre-made dishes. Exceptions are rotisserie chickens, fresh turkey breast, high-quality deli meats, and some salads. While there are some safe hot dogs, ask yourself this question: "Do You Really Want to Eat Hot Dogs After Knowing This?"

#11. Be careful with dairy products that are high in fat such as butter and cheese. Skip those that are manipulated and made with too many ingredients. Plain butter is better than man-made butter spreads such as Margarine, which is an artificial product. Choose other dairy products that are low in fat and have little or no sugar; such as milk, yogurt and cream cheese.  And if you are lactose intolerant, prefer a vegan diet, there's soy, almond and rice milk as well as soy yogurts that you can get.

#12. As far as plant protein: You can include a variety of legumes, nuts, seeds, and some almond or nut butter as well as a few healthy plant protein products such as hummus. Even though its a "good fat," moderation is key with some of these "GOOD FOODS."

#13. When selecting your carbohydrates, fruits and veggies are the best (even bananas and potatoes); however, a variety of whole grains, such as quinoa, rice, buckwheat, and oats are great as well. Just be careful with grain products. Most are processed and full of fat, sugar and tons of ingredients that are bad for health and fitness. Yet, there are many choices such as mochi, rice cakes, sprouted corn tortillas as well as some breads, pasta, and cereals that are safe.

*The "eliminating all white food" diets were discussed
*Ezekiel Bread: Good or bad?  
*What about pasta?
*Speaking of fiber.... And, a great find: high-fiber pasta

#14. Be careful when selecting salad dressing, sauces and condiments –– they are added calories from fat and sugar that will make you fat. If you buy salad dressing, make sure it’s low- fat, low-sodium, and sugar-free. Olive oil and Balsamic vinegar is even better. Lemon is great too. Also, salsa and marinara sauces are OK as well as mustard and horseradish, to name a few. BE SELECTIVE!

#15. When cooking healthy and fit meals, a little olive oil, soy sauce and some BBQ sauces are OK. However, it is in choosing a variety of untainted herbs and spices as well as fresh veggies and fruit that will add flavor and significantly increase the health value of your meals (and baking for that matter). For example, anise, basil, bell peppers, broccoli, cayenne pepper, chili peppers, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, eggplant, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, nutmeg, oregano, onions, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, shallots, spinach, turmeric, thyme. But make sure you SKIP the table salt, because most natural foods (meat, fish, poultry, dairy foods, eggs, as well as nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits and vegetables) contain the essential mineral, sodium.  NOTE: "Healthy and Fit Cooking Segment" in the works!

#16. Be sure that you are very selective when buying canned or frozen food items. Some exceptions are frozen fish and meats, as well as vegetables and fruits, providing there is nothing else in them. Also canned foods such as tuna in water, chickpeas, kidney beans and some soups are good choices. 

#17. Know that the majority of those so-called healthy frozen entrees (Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers Smart Ones, etc) are NOT fit to consume –– as they are jammed-packed with sodium and other unhealthy ingredients. In fact, BE very leery of ALL man-made products that claim to be healthy and fit.

#18. Always read labels when you are buying ANY packaged, processed food or man-made food items. And make sure that check the expiration dates on packaged foods. IMPORTANT NOTE: “How to Read Food Labels” guide below.

#19. Resist the junk food (donuts, cakes, candy and potato chips). But allow for “planned diet cheat”
Finding Fun Foods!
such as healthy pudding, light sorbet, or even "fit" frozen yogurt and ice cream. Consider Angel Food cake with fresh strawberries, or maybe baked chips and other crunchy snacks so that you won’t cheat on something you shouldn’t. While you should only consume these on occasion (more so during your fat-loss maintenance phase), your kids will enjoy these healthier choices.

#20. While table sugar is taboo, there are other healthy products that can sooth that sweet tooth, such as honey or Agave nectar, fruit spread, and sugar-free applesauce. There’s also dried fruit that, while you're more likely to consume more calories than when you eat fresh fruit, it's still a good choice –– as long as there are no other added ingredients.

*I stand corrected on recommending Agave Nectar

#21. If you shouldn’t eat it or can't pronounce it, DON’T buy it!

Read Food Labels: Your health, wellness & fitness levels depend on it!

When it comes to grocery shopping, wholesome foods in their natural state are the best choices. But in today's society we are bombarded with man-made and man-manipulated foods as well as processed food products –– with MOST of them being unhealthy, unfit and even harmful.

Keep in mind that many of our foods (even wholesome foods) come in a package and we should take every measure to educate ourselves in what we are about to buy (eat and drink).


Below are some facts to consider about packaged foods that will shed some light on this topic. Later, I've provided some great tools to use when you are about to buy or consume packaged, processed and man-made food products.


First, take a peak at the entire food label, however, don’t believe everything you read –– as the food industry is in the money business, marketing their products with misconceptions and hype (at least what they can get away with). Things to be aware of are Nutrient Content Descriptors, health claims, 100% natural, organic assertions, food allergy alerts and so on.

Graphic from the FDA

While most consumers are familiar with the “NUTRITION FACTS” found on the back of packaged food items, which includes both mandatory and voluntary information, in May 2016, it got a make-over (see RIGHT).

Here are some things to consider:
  • “Servings Per Container,” and “Serving Size” just gives you an idea on just that: Servings. Keep in mind that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to healthy and fit food choices.
  • The “Amount per Serving” that includes “Total Calories” as well as additional nutrients, is key to knowing whether the product has any nutritional value at all (the QUALITY).
  • At the bottom of the label you will find the “Percent Daily Values (DV),” which is based on a 2000-calorie diet, and comes from the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” that apparently was designed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1980 and is updated every five years.
  • Keep in mind that NOT all diets are based on 2000 calories per day as well as the fact that gaining muscle and losing fat may require a different percent daily value with some key nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates and fats.

One Ingredient: Rolled Oats
10 Ingredient Oatmeal
Foods with more than one ingredient must have an ingredient list on the label, yet those with just one ingredient do this as well. The example here is plain “Quaker Oats," which has ONE ingredient: “whole grain rolled oats.” Yet, flavored Quaker Oats is a disaster (see graphics and compare) with TEN ingredients.

What’s key here is that ingredients, which can be found at different places on packaged foods, are listed in descending order by weight. Those in the largest amounts are listed first, and so on. This information is particularly helpful to individuals with food sensitivities, food allergies, and those that prefer a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Taken together, the list of ingredients and the nutrition facts are absolutely invaluable for those that want to lose fat and gain health –– and even for those that are aiming to maintain what they have worked so hard to attain. It allows you (THE CONSUMER) to rate packaged foods and food products in order to make informed decisions on whether it is a quality product that can be place on your “GOOD FOODS” list –– one that has nutritional value with key nutrients as well as fiber, vitamins and minerals. Last but not least, this information makes it easier to limit saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, sodium, and other food additives and preservatives –– especially those that are detrimental to health, wellness and fitness.

What about food additives?

That answer would require an entire book to explain, so let’s just say that when it comes to food additives, the long-term safety of most of them is still unknown. So ask yourself this question: do you really want to leave your future health to chance?"

To really know what you are getting when you buy packaged, processed foods as well as man-made food products, DO YOUR HOMEWORK, because your health, wellness and fitness levels depend on it!

For more detailed information on reading labels, check these out:

Three Quick Quality Food Tests

#1. “GOOD FOODS”: Six-Question Test

For now, below are some quick quality food tests that will help you on your “get fit” journey. First is a quick six-question test that you can perform when deciding what to eat and drink. This is where the quality and purity of calories are determined. When choosing a food and/or a food product, you must be able to answer, “yes” to three or more of the six questions listed below.

Using this “GOOD FOOD” test will ensure that your food choices fit into a program that fosters maximum fat loss and ensures better health.

#1 – is it LEAN?
  • Low in all fats, especially “bad fat” such as saturated fats and trans fats
#2 – is it HEALTHY?
  • Low in sugar
  • Low in sodium
  • Low in saturated fat and watch the cholesterol
  • Free of empty and unnecessary calories
  • Free of trans fats
  • Full of nutritional value
#3 – Where’s the FIBER? (Exceptions are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy)

#4 – is it CLEAN? (What are the ingredients?)
  • Is it processed?
  • Low or no preservatives and additives
  • Free of flavoring agents, coloring agents, etc.
  • Free of chemicals and other fake foods
  • Free of hidden fats, sugars, sodium, and white flour
  • If packaged, does it have less than 6 ingredients?
#5 – Is it PURE?
  • Natural vs. processed
  • Fresh vs. man-manipulated
  • Organic vs. non-organic
  • Animal friendly meats vs. NOT
  • Real vs. genetically modified 
  • If it is a packaged food, what are the ingredients listed and the order of those ingredients?
*This extremely tuned-in August 2016 group mentioned Genetically Modified Foods (GMO) many times 

#6 – Is it ALIVE? (With the exception of animal protein, of course as well as other cautions that should be considered)
  • Sprouted grains and legumes
  • Raw nuts and seeds (be selective)
  • Raw fruits and vegetables

#2. Packaged Food Analysis

Choosing packaged foods and man-made food products is NOT always “black and white”. There will always be Best – Moderate – Marginal – Worst. However, there are seven main questions that you can ask when you are purchasing packaged food items, which will at least get you in the ballpark.

#1. Who made it?
#2. How was it made?
#3. How many ingredients are in it?
#4. What is in it (what are the ingredients)?

You should also wonder:
#5. Where was the product made?
#6. What kind of factories and equipment were used?
#7. What are the conditions and practices of the company that made, processed or packaged the product?

#3. “Mini Guide to Deal with the Number of Ingredients Found in Packaged Foods and Man-Made Food Products” that will help you determine how many are appropriate.

Number of Ingredients Signals
  • 1 Ideal
  • 3 Excellent
  • 5 Probably OK
  • 6-9 May need further analysis
  • 10-19 Could be a problem
  • 20-29 Caution
  • 30 + Stay away!
There are a exceptions to this "mine guide," which are mainly when it comes to protein shake mixes, fortified energy, sports and health drinks, as well as energy and food bars that have added vitamins and minerals. There are also some man-made products that have more than 10 ingredients that are pure. Nevertheless, you must still choose those that meet a high quality food and liquid criteria. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE PUTTING INTO YOUR BODY!

Prepared August 23, 2016 / Revised September 3, 2016 


Terrific "good food" questions and comments!
Ten Terrific Questions, Comments and Concerns: August 2016 RockFit Class

#1) The controversy surrounding eating raw almonds:

Yep, nuts and seeds are a "super healthy foods!" Yet, don't include peanuts in that list, because they are in fact legumes. "Peanuts actually grow underground, as opposed to nuts like walnuts, almonds, etc. that grow on trees (and are sometimes referred to as "tree nuts")," documents The Peanut Institute.

Nuts and seeds are great plant protein source that contain "good fats" (unsaturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids) that have many health benefits. They are jammed-packed full of vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants, plant sterols and the amino acid, L-Arginine.

While that's all good and dandy, keep in mind that nuts and seeds are high in calories and good fat. So, when you are trying to lose weight, be cautious on the amount you consume each day, because those daily fat grams add up. Moderation is key.

Still, many in the nutrition world advise eating "Raw Nuts and Seeds," including almonds. Yet, others claim, "The raw, 'organic,' almonds you find in your health food store are toxic and could cause inflammatory conditions and cancer?"

According to, here's the issue:
A few years ago after a salmonella scare was traced back to raw almonds, the USDA decided that virtually all raw almonds had to be pasteurized. Instead of addressing the environment that caused contamination, they attacked the nut. Pasteurization would eliminate the risk of contamination and by utilizing a special fumigation process – they could still be labeled raw. People have been deceived into thinking this process is safe ever since.

The truth is, pasteurized, raw, “organic” almonds are not safe and they’re not raw. Raw foods are living organisms that contain enzymes, a high nutrient content, and have the ability to sprout. Pasteurized almonds are dead almonds. They have little to no enzyme activity, poor nutrient content, and cannot sprout.
They also note that, "In the United States you can only purchase un-pasteurized almonds from the farmer/grower via a roadside stand or legally online...

Another perspective from March 2012 on "Eating Raw Nuts" can be found at
Pasteurized almonds sold in North America can still be labeled "raw" even though they've been subjected to one of the treatment processes listed above. There are generally no truly "raw" almonds sold in North America, so don't be misled. It is possible to purchase raw almonds in the U.S., but it has to be done very carefully from vendors selling small quantities that have a waiver from the pasteurization requirement. The key is to find a company with the waiver that is NOT pasteurizing them. I personally enjoy raw almonds nearly every day, as it is an outstanding food.

#2) A great point was made that it IS best to get fruits and vegetables that are in season:

Yes, there are many reasons it is better to choose seasonal fruits and vegetables found locally and organic, as opposed to what's randomly placed in the produce section, which was shipped in from all over the world. 

The reasons not only include taste, creativity as well as environmental, economic and community value, but the nutritional value is key. The reality is that seasonal, locally harvested produce have significantly better taste and are a much higher quality food. For further evidence, check this piece out: "Benefits of Eating What’s in Season."

#3) There were some questions surrounding the consumption of alcohol and its impact on fat-loss:

While there are numerous, dangerous effects that consuming excessive amounts of alcohol have on the body and mind, there are many ways that alcohol hinders fat loss.
Consider this, which is found over at
Unlike macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats, alcohol supplies what nutritionists often refer to as empty calories: calories without nutrition. To make matters worse, it is the first fuel to be used when combined with carbohydrates, fats and proteins, postponing the fat-burning process and contributing to greater fat storage.

They also quote diet guru Robert C Atkins, regarding alcohols affect on fat storage:
"Here's the problem with all alcoholic beverages, and the reason I recommend refraining from alcohol consumption on the diet. Alcohol, whenever taken in, is the first fuel to burn. While that's going on, your body will not burn fat. This does not stop the weight loss, it simply postpones it, since the alcohol does not store as glycogen, and you immediately go back into ketosis/lipolysis after the alcohol is used up.

If you must drink alcohol, wine is an acceptable addition to levels beyond the Induction diet. If wine does not suit your taste, straight liquor such as scotch, rye, vodka, and gin would be appropriate, as long as the mixer is sugarless; this means no juice, tonic water; or non-diet soda. Seltzer and diet soda are appropriate."

While gives some tips on "How to Drink Without Gaining Weight," it is my professional opinion that when it comes to alcohol consumption for those on a body fat-loss mission: LESS IS BEST. 

#4) One person wanted a little more advice on making her own protein shake/smoothie: 

Due to egg allergies, one woman asked me about protein shakes. While she shared her own great recipes, we didn't have time to chat further. So, I decided to share some ideas here –– actually from "48 Delicious Protein Shake Recipes."

The trick is to find a quality protein powder that suits your dietary considerations. Also, many of these protein shakes are made with dairy that you can substitute with almond or rice milk, as well as water or fresh juice.

#5) The "eliminating all white food" diets were discussed:

OK, another trendy diet is "The Eat Nothing White Diet," of which, as noted by SF Gates Healthy Eating, "goes by a number of other names, including the "No White Foods" diet and the "No White at Night" diet.  Either way, "All are based on the same principle -- the key to losing weight is to stop eating a specific list of white foods."

According to SF Gate:
This entails eliminating the following foods from your diet: white rice, white potatoes, white beans, white sugar and any product made with refined sugar and white flour products like white bread or pasta.
No White Foods diet followers are also told to avoid using solid fats that are white without artificial coloring added, such as cheddar cheese or butter. The only exceptions to the no-white rule are cauliflower, egg whites, parsnips, milk, white fish and white poultry meat. A dieter should replace the restricted foods in his meals with brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and bread and a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.

--Graphic from
While much of this is good advice, I've highlighted what I believe is NOT.  However, there is nothing wrong with potatoes or white rice.
And there is a place for some pasta and breads –– even on a fat-loss plan.

Remember, just like "good fat grams" add up, so do "good carbs". Moderation is key...

What the "NO White Diet" and other trendy diets use is the Glycemic Index, which "is a numerical Index that ranks carbohydrates based on their rate of glycemic response (i.e. their conversion to glucose within the human body), in order to scare people away from even natural foods such as potatoes, white rice, bananas and carrots.


While the Glycemic Index is great for those with diabetes and other blood sugar issues, it is also great at analyzing man-made food items. However, it is not the only guide you should use when choosing a diet program that will help you lose fat and gain health. And, why would you want eliminate natural foods like fruits and vegetables of any kind.

And what about that rice they want you to give up at the weight-loss altar? Well, "White rice has a GI rating of about 65, and brown rice has a slightly lower rating of 55," according to the Harvard Medical School. So don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

Not to mention, "The Glycemic Index is not a perfect system for evaluating foods since it does not evaluate all of the foods within a meal," appropriately notes SF Gate Healthy Eating.

My professional recommendation would be to eliminate these instead: 
  • The Three BIG WHITES: White bread, white table salt, and white refined sugar
  • The Three Big F's: Fried, Fast and Fake Foods

#6) Ezekiel Bread: Good or evil?  

Since bread and pasta are mane-made food items, choosing good ones is a little trickier. When it comes to bread, my recommendation is to choose whole grain breads such as Ezekiel Bread, because it is a healthier option over other breads. According to Dr. Josh Axe, "It has do with its preparation" –– "specifically that the grains used to make Ezekiel Bread have been sprouted."

Dr. Axe goes on to list the benefits of sprouted grain breads compared to breads that are made with grains that haven’t been sprouted, which is worth a look. Yet, here's a hint: complete protein, better digestibility, more nutrient dense and better absorption of those nutrients, and higher in fiber.

While most bread is dangerous, there are many healthy gluten-free types of bread you can choose from.  The other option I like to throw out there is Sourdough Bread., documents Sourdough Bread "is bread which has been leavened with a sourdough starter. It may or may not be a sour bread, depending on the characteristics of the starter."

The piece, "A Healthy Bread that is Good For You!" takes on the topic of "A True Sourdough Bread":

Sourdough bread is bread that is baked without the use of modernized yeast. It is the traditional way bread was made thousands of years ago. The bread rises

The bread rises slowly allowing the bread to ferment for several days to up to a month. This helps to promote the growth of more probiotic organisms. Last month I took a course on grains from
 The author then links to "10 Reasons to Eat Sourdough Bread!"
--Photo from

However, again, you have to be selective. Try to find what I call "pure" sourdough bread that is made with "traditional sourdough recipes," which include only 3 ingredients: sourdough starter (which consists of flour and water), salt and flour. "There is no yeast, no milk, no oils and no sweeteners.  It’s about as natural as you get when it comes to bread," notes Tiffany at

The good news is you can find a "pure" sourdough bread that has three or four ingredients –– or you can make your own.

#7) What about pasta? 
---Trader Joe’s Organic Black Bean Rotini

As far as pasta goes: You can skip old regular white pasta and choose from made from whole wheat as well as a variety of gluten-free pasta such as those made from corn, brown rice, and quinoa. These are much healthier than any products made with white flour, which according to nutrition experts, "is stripped down to remove the grain’s bran and germ, and with them, fiber, protein, iron and B vitamins." This goes for white pastas that are “enriched” with added fibers and vitamins.

Again: bread and pasta carry their fare share of carbs per serving –– so moderation is key when you are on a fat-loss program.

#8) Speaking of fiber.... And, a great find: high-fiber pasta: 

It was fun to see that our youngest attendee from our "healthy and fit grocery-shopping" class found a great high-fiber pasta (we all cheered!): Trader Joe’s Organic Black Bean Rotini, which carries 14 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber in every serving.

That brings us to an important issue: Due to the excessive amounts of processed foods and man-made food items found in the American diet, most Americans are not consuming enough fiber each day.

Dietary fiber — found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes — is not only essential for a health (intestinal health, lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease, and more), it is beneficial for those seeking excellent fitness levels.

In fact, when I discuss diet with my clients, I always ask them, "Show Me the Fiber!" And, I'm always amazed that they are either clueless when it comes to "fibrous foods" and/or they fall short of the daily fiber recommendations, of which according to the Institute of Medicine for adults are as follows:

Age 50 or younger
  • Men 38 grams
  • Women 25 grams
Age 51 or older
  • Men 30 grams
  • Women 21 grams
So, skip the processed foods and bulk up on legumes, whole grains, fruits and veggies as well as some nuts and seeds.

#9) I stand corrected on recommending Agave Nectar:

It turns out that Agave Nectar, which has been promoted as a great alternative sweetener (including by me), is NOT that great after all. According to Dr. Josh Axe and many other nutritionists, "Agave is not healthier than honey, sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), or any other type of sweetener.” You can read why HERE.

Graphic from the Non GMO Project
#10) This extremely tuned-in August 2016 group mentioned Genetically Modified Foods (GMO) many time: 

The following key points are documented at The Non GMO Project:
What is a GMO?
A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified using recombinant DNA methods (also called gene splicing), gene modification or transgenic technology. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. Visit the What is GMO page for more information and a list of high-risk crops.

Are GMOs safe?
Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe and have significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. The U.S. and Canadian governments, though, have approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale.

Are GMOs labeled?
Sixty-four countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, require genetically modified foods to be labeled 1. While a 2015 ABC News survey found that 93% of Americans believe genetically modified foods should be labeled, GMOs are not required to be labeled in the U.S. and Canada 2. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve.

Which foods might contain GMOs?
Most packaged foods contain ingredients derived from corn, soy, canola, and sugar beet — and the vast majority of those crops grown in North America are genetically modified 3. To see a list of high-risk crops, visit the What is GMO page.
Please take the time to educate yourself in this area...

Now that the kids are back in school, isn't it time that you get back to "Healthy and Fit Grocery Shopping" –– or take your first steps in that direction?

Signing off,

Through E.A.M. (Education, Application & Motivation), we can make a difference in our own health, wellness and fitness as well as those of others. 

By, Christine Lakatos, ACE Certified Fitness Trainer since 1995 –– with over 35 years experience in the heath and fitness industry

Personal Training Services:
  • World Gym La Quinta, CA
  • Private Fitness studio in Palm Desert, CA 
  • "In Home" across the Coachella Valley

For a Free Consultation contact me at World Gym, La Quinta or email me at

Please consult your physician or health care professional prior to starting any exercise program or a particular diet regimen.

While this site offers health, fitness and nutritional information and tips backed by over 36 years experience in the health and fitness industry as well as American Council on Exercise (ACE) accreditation, which requires continuing education every two years, it is designed for educational purposes only. It is not recommended as a substitute for your doctor's advice or that of a "Registered Dietitian or Qualified Nutritionist."  
The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk. 

Lastly, keep in mind that each FITNESS FLASH gives one big part of the fat-loss, improved health equation. There's more to come... 

Jun 23, 2011

Super Fit Kids Animated Series –– The Trailer: Launched on KICKSTARTER to Raise Funds in 30 Days!

the idea

SUPER FIT KIDS: A Cartoon Campaign –– future animated TV series, video game, and more –– is designed to educate and motive our youth, in an entertaining manner, by creating excitement surrounding healthy diet choices and exercise. SUPER FIT KIDS will also promote enthusiasm in the arena of preserving and cleaning up our planet, including green technology and their related products and services.

The SUPER FIT KIDS' goal is to move our country toward "a fit nation and a greener planet." The plan is to use an action adventure, superhero format. The "Fitness Superheroes" –– a Wonder Woman and Laura Croft type leading the way –– along with her SUPER FIT TEAM, who will expose, attack, and defeat the "diet, exercise and eco-villains."

While the SUPER FIT KIDS Animated Series will include the savvy, wit, and occasional humor (all age appropriate of course) of today's animation, and music that appeals to this generation, the educational aspect will be subliminal. Moreover, the focus of each episode will be on a particular "villain" or more –– like Batman vs. the Joker (Batman had many enemies) –– and will conclude with a real message and practical application.

where we're at...

At this point in time, two of the Fitness Superheroes and 18 "diet villains" were designed by My Team and are highlighted on the MY DIVA DIET website, where you will meet the heroine, (the speaking) Super Fit Diva. The cartoon characters can also found in my diet book and other online social networking outlets including YouTube.

Wild Cow Productions and YOUR contribution:

  • The majority of the funds will go into taking this concept to a critical level –– a 3-minute animated trailer to present to TV networks and video game companies. We have an animation house ready to bring this vision to life –– Two Animators, and they ROCK!
  • We will begin character development on the rest of the Fitness Superheroes –– the SUPER FIT TEAM, which will include children from all walks of life and an array of sports and physical activity. We would also like to move forward on our long list of enemies –– the "exercise and eco-villains."
  • We will design an action-adventure website to aggressively launch the SUPER FIT KIDS project and begin our mission –– "to wage war against the dark forces that plague our bodies and destroy our planet!"

Won't you consider being part of the solution? Together, through the entertainment industry (which could use a wholesome boost), we can make a profound and positive impact on our children, our country, and the world!

to pledge, go our KICKSTARTER page!

Apr 3, 2011

World Gym La Quinta, CA: 10-Week Body Shaping Boot Camp

For Women Only...
10-Week Body Shaping Boot Camp

Christine Lakatos ACE Certified Fitness Trainer

Starting Friday, April 15, 2011 through Friday, June 24, 2011.
  • Serious fitness training designed for those who truly want RESULTS!
  • 3 days a week 1 hour workouts –– Mon, Wed, Fri
  • One boot camp in the AM and one in the PM
  • Times to be determined; and slots limited to 5 max.
  • Lose Fat: Gain Health…
  • Prize available for the "biggest (fat and inches) loser."
10-week Body Shaping Boot Camp includes:
  • Complimentary Fitness Evaluation, body fat analysis, measurements, and goal setting
  • Complimentary Diet Workbook
  • Complimentary Diet Quiz with brief personalized Diet Analysis
  • 10 weeks of intense group training.
  • Learn the Six Components to an Effective Exercise Program
  • Program Design included at the end of the 10 weeks for maintenance or to go to the next level.
  • NOTE: A more thorough Personalized Diet Analysis and Meal Plans will be available for an extra fee.
  • Christine also offers personal training packages and more.
For more info, sign up at World Gym La Quinta ( 760-564-9822).

Brief About:
Christine is a first a mom of two terrific daughters. She is an entrepreneur at heart, but is a well respected fitness expert with close to 30 years experience in the fitness industry. She is also author of My Diva Diet: A Woman’s Last Diet Book (sold on and other online venues) and has the sequel "Work it Girl: Work the Fat Off and the Firm On," exercise book in the works, as well as other projects like SUPER FIT KIDS: A Cartoon Campaign. Christine is a retired body builder, fitness competitor (clips can be found at My Diva Diet YouTube) and holds many titles and over the years has appeared on various promotional gigs; including a series on KESQ TV:3 Midday Show back in the 90's.

And Christine was a competitor on American Gladiators in 1990.

A note from me:
As a retired competitor who never starved or took drugs to get to 6% body fat –– now close to 50, I strive to steer people, especially our youth, away from “QUICK-FIX” programs and products. I want them to realize that they don’t have to starve or deprive themselves in order to lose fat. And by the way, it’s not complicated either. I teach that fat loss and optimal health can be achieved the safe, effective and lifelong way –– through a lifestyle of proper diet and exercise.

The My Diva Diet mission is to empower women and young girls so that they can get into great shape, to challenge them to be better women, and to ensure a legacy of good health for the next generation!

E.C.L. Empower –– Challenge –– Legacy

For more info check out my website at, and my blog –– Fitness Flash here and on Blogcritics Magazine.

Mar 5, 2011

My Diva Diet: Product Find by Robert Dave Johnston

My Diva Diet presents a fun and entertaining way by using animated “fitness superheroes” and “diet villains”.

Product Find by Robert Dave Johnston of
August 13, 2010

My Diva Diet is a book that markets itself as a woman’s last diet book. The book is written by Christine Lakatos, a former profession body builder, and Amber Garman.

My Diva Diet presents a fun and entertaining way by using animated “fitness superheroes” and “diet villains”. The fat loss diet book includes “Diva Quotes,” “Paw Guides” and “Special Superhero Designs” (e.g., food pyramids for fat reduction and maintenance) to add fun and clarity to your journey of a better body and healthier, happier life.

It includes a diet quiz, worksheets, practical guides, special quotes tips and charts, as well as tasty, quick weight-loss meal plans and recipes, and much more.

There are two different phases involved in My Diva Diet. The first phase is Diva Reduction and is ten weeks long. The second phase is Diva Maintenance. This is the phase that you complete after you’ve reached your weight loss goals and are ready to transition into a healthy lifestyle.

The My Diva Diet mission is to empower women so that they can get into great shape, to challenge them to be better women, and to ensure a legacy of good health for the next generation! Here are some highlights:

  • Eliminates restrictive and unbalanced dieting practices
  • Includes workbook so you can track your results
  • Factors in allowances for favorite foods
  • Written by fitness experts
  • Promotes a healthy rate of weight loss
  • Presents a fun way of looking at weight loss
  • Promotes a whole-foods diet
  • Doesn’t offer any new or novel information on how to lose weight
  • Target audience is limited to females

My Diva Diet consists of two different diet phases:

The first phase is Diva Reduction and is ten weeks long. The important focus of phase one is portion control. Your calorie target in this phase is between 1,200 and 1,300 calories per day. The breakdown of those calories should include 35% protein, 45% carbs and 20% fat. Fiber is included in every meal and you eat four to five meals per day having one every three to four hours.

The daily calories are divided into four food groups and the book includes recipes to help with this. It is recommended that you drink water all day throughout the day and all kinds of tea and plain coffee are allowed. Milk is to be kept to a minimum and fresh fruit or vegetable juice and meal replacement drinks are watched closely and very carefully selected. Drinks like alcohol, soda, packaged juice and sugary drinks are not allowed during this phase.

You can choose your own foods on phase one or use the recipes that are included. The foods you choose would just need to meet the criteria outlined in the book and listed above.

Phase two of the program is the Diva Maintenance phase. During this phase your daily caloric count is increased to 1,400 to 1,600 calories per day. You are still eating four to five times per day with meals being a little larger at this point. Your breakdown also offers more flexibility with 20-35% protein, 45-65% carbs and 20-30% fat. You get more leeway during phase two and you can also cheat a little more.

Exercise is also a critical part of both phases of My Diva Diet. Adding exercise to a diet program allows you to lose weight faster and you feel the benefits quickly.

It is recommended that you add an efficient and effective exercise program to your eating plan. Some of the important factors to look for when choosing your exercises are makes sure it includes cardiovascular conditioning, strength and endurance training, flexibility training, core and balance training, functional training and corrective exercises.

There are a ton of diets out there and many of them fall into the fad diet category. My Diva Diet actually gives women the steps and guidance they need to lose weight once and for all. The program is solid and doesn’t involve any questionable practices and you’re not encouraged to complete eliminate groups of food. You actually get to eat carbs and protein and fat on this diet.

My Diva Diet offers a sensible and fun way to lose weight.

To learn more, go to

Jan 16, 2011

MY DIVA DIET Review By Best Diet For Me

My Diva Diet: A Woman's Last Diet Book was released in 2008; and has received rave reviews. One of these reviews came from one of "America's most trusted weight-loss authority," who have been in business for 31 years ––

Here is the review...
My Diva Diet was developed by Christine Lakatos, an ACE Certified Fitness Trainer and former professional bodybuilder. Lakatos' experience in the fitness industry, and especially her one-on-one experience with clients as a fitness trainer led her to develop the program. In her introduction to the program, she also incorporates an explanation of how her health philosophy for the program is rooted in her belief in Judeo-Christian principles. Designed for women, My Diva Diet illustrates the reasons why women gain body fat by using "fitness superheroes," Ms. Diva and her dog, Paw, and a host of evil "diet villains," like "Tranny Granny", "Dr. Pill" "Mrs. Regret", "Vegg", and others, to illustrate who your true diet allies and enemies are. The author uses "Diva Quotes" to emphasize important principles, and food pyramids to provide nutritional guidelines for fat reduction and weight loss maintenance. The cute superheroes add an element of fun and help to motivate you as you work your way through the book.

Based on widely accepted, well-researched nutritional principles found in most of the well-respected, leading diet programs, the book does not offer the quick-fix solutions found in so-called "fad" diets. The emphasis is on attacking the root cause of excess weight and how to solve the problem on a long term basis. Emotional eating issues are given close attention. Lakatos emphasizes the importance of "clean eating" -- eliminating preservatives and artificial ingredients from your diet and instead choosing more natural, organic foods. The program consists of two phases: Phase One-Diva Reduction; and Phase Two-Diva Maintenance.

In My Diva Diet, Lakatos details five reasons why she believes women gain body fat, which she calls "The Five Factors Affecting Body Fat and Health. The book explains how each factor can sabotage your weight loss efforts and specific changes you can make to avoid common diet traps. The book also suggests how positive changes can be implemented into your lifestyle to ensure lifelong success and better health overall.

Factor #1: Liquid Consumption

Factor #2: Quantity and Distribution of Calories

Factor #3: Quality and Purity of Calories

Factor #4: Restrictive and Unbalanced Dieting

Factor #5: Exercise

The book also refers to it's accompanying website,, which provides worksheets, links to product and information sources, and a host of other useful tools.

Click here to see more Expert Reviews...

Dec 30, 2010

What You Drink Impacts Your Diet, Part Ten: Alcohol

This final installment brings you the good, the bad, and the ugly in consuming alcohol. Add, "What you drink” to your 2011 New Year’s Resolution list.

As we conclude 2010 and begin a new year, alcohol is usually part of the celebration. But before you pop that cork and "party on," let's stop and briefly take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly surrounding this beverage.

The Ugly:
Even though this is not the focus of our beverage expedition, the dark side of alcohol should be noted. Other than that nasty hangover after a night of drunkenness, this beverage choice causes poor judgment, behavioral problems, and for millions it leads to alcohol abuse, and even death. Sadly, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), who "serves a victim or survivor of drunk driving every 10 minutes," statistics are grim: "every minute, one person is injured from an alcohol-related crash." And alarmingly, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that "10,839 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in 2009 –– that's one every 50 minutes."

The Bad:
As far as the fitness aspects, you should be aware that alcohol has short-term effects on health and body fat; its nutritional value is nil –– as in tons of empty calories, and those mixed drinks pack on more calories than you think. Drinking a lot of booze can also cause dehydration, create electrolyte imbalances, and alcohol can indirectly make you fat –– "while your body uses up all the alcohol circulating in the blood, the oxidation of fats, carbohydrates and protein becomes suppressed." Translation: these macronutrients are not used for their intended purpose and are "forced into storage."

The Good:
Now, you may not be a heavy drinker, which is a good thing, but perhaps you are under the impression that "moderate drinking –– about one drink a day for women, about two for men –– is a central component of a healthy lifestyle." Are you are convinced by what some "experts" have been touting for years? That alcohol is good for your health –– reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes and dementia –– mainly. Not so fast my friends because the New York Times shed "doubt" on the case in 2009; highlighting that some scientists take issue with these claims, and in reality "it may be that moderate drinking is just something healthy people tend to do, not something that makes people healthy." Furthermore, the Mayo Clinic, who lists some of the health benefits of moderate drinking, also points out that "the evidence about the possible health benefits of alcohol isn't certain, and alcohol may not benefit everyone who drinks."

Yes, you may snag some antioxidants and a "sense of relaxation" from that red wine, but then again, it's possible to benefit more from a glass of grape juice, a massage, and soothing music. Keep in mind too, that 1 glass (3.5 fl oz) of wine is 85 calories and if you consume a glass a day; that adds up to 595 calories per week. Beer on the other hand, ranges from 95 to over 200 calories, while cocktails can top 700 calories for just one. And for those "watching their weight," calories do count.


Before we complete our beverage journey, let's recap. First and foremost, water is essential to life and critical for health, wellness, and weight loss. Coffee is good in moderation if you skip the cream and sugar and tea (without the sugar) offers countless health and wellness benefits, while green tea helps fight obesity and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Milk is highly overrated. Consuming too much soda has dire consequences to your overall health and fitness level. Some sports drinks as well as fruit and vegetable juices can be a good way to hydrate and catch a few vitamins and minerals while you're at it; however, sugar and other additives may be in the mix too. Meal replacement drinks have their place in our fast-paced society, providing you read labels or make your own. Lastly, good news for our beloved abstainers, if you are serious about losing fat, alcohol must be off limits. However, alcohol (in moderation; as in a few a week, not a day) can be a beverage choice when you are on a maintenance plan.

In closing, it's important to understand that "what you drink does impact your diet" –– good and bad –– when it comes to overall health and weight loss. An occasional detour from healthy and fit beverage choices will not harm your efforts, but staying on the wrong path for a long period of time will.

Add this to your 2011 New Year's Resolution list: "I will drink more water and clean up my other beverage choices." Place it on your frig and other places as a reminder and motivator. I guarantee you will feel and look much better.

May you have a safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

Article first published as What You Drink Impacts Your Diet, Part Ten: Alcohol on Blogcritics.
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Dec 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Dec 22, 2010

What You Drink Impacts Your Diet, Part Nine: Meal Replacement Drinks

Beware: Just like meal replacement bars, meal replacement drinks are used to entice the consumer, via quick-fix scams and false promises.

In closing Part Eight, we discovered that veggie drinks are an excellent meal replacement choice, providing you choose appropriately or build your own. However, veggie drinks are not the only way to get health-on-the-go; we are saturated with hundreds of diet and protein shake options. Unfortunately, the billion-dollar fitness industry makes its money off quick-fix scams and false promises. Beware: just like meal replacement bars, meal replacement drinks are used to entice the consumer, using the aforementioned techniques.

Next time you pick up a so-called “diet or protein shake" or vegetable drink, make sure you carefully examine the ingredients. This is because, like most commercial beverages, many of these pre-made drinks contain a lot of sugar and other sweeteners, fat, and an array of preservatives and additives. In many diet and protein shakes, the "protein blend" used is questionable, as are the claims touted in their advertising and on their labels.

For example, let's take a peek at Slim-Fast diet shakes, with over 50 ingredients—the third of which happens to be sugar. While one can of this drink is low in calories (180), it still contains 23 grams of carbs, of which 18 grams comes from sugar. The number one ingredient is fat-free milk (a liquid choice covered in Part Five)—not necessarily bad, except for those who are lactose intolerant. But considering that it is not organic milk, it's a red flag for those of us who care about cows. Even though they have thrown in some vitamins and minerals, enhancing its nutritional value, you only get 10 grams of protein out of the Slim-Fast can, yet you'll consume 6 grams of fat (1.5 grams saturated), which, at the end of the day, may not be worth it.

After a brief analysis of the nutrition label, the next step is to dig deeper into the ingredients. For the sake of time, we'll just probe into the protein blend (the sixth ingredient) used in Slim-Fast. It is
Milk Protein Concentrate (known as MPC), a commonly used additive in products like processed cheese (Kraft singles), coffee creamers, frozen dairy desserts, crackers, energy bars, and nutritional drinks. MPC's "are created when milk is ultra-filtered, a process that drains out the lactose and keeps the milk protein and other large molecules. The protein components are then dried and become a powder."

Apparently, in 2009, the dairy industry was (is) suffering a "crisis" which is neither my concern nor the focus of our "expedition." According to Ethecurian online magazine, this dairy crisis is not just a result of the recession; it also has to do with MPC. For the most part, MPC is imported, and from countries "with very poor food safety records (China, India, Poland, the Ukraine)." Moreover, ironically MPC is an ingredient "used to make glue" and is not approved by the FDA, yet "it somehow manages to be included in the ingredient list of over $10 billion worth of food, primarily fast food and junk food."

So, Slim-Fast may be "fast," but will it make you slim? Only in your head, because in reality, the bad outweighs the good it offers. Now, we could spend hours dissecting all of the bad pre-made meal replacement drinks on the market, but that would be a waste of time. More important is to become skilled in reading labels—setting you free to make "good" choices all of the time.

While we addressed green drinks at out last stop, protein shakes and smoothies (the good ones) usually start with water, ice, real juice, organic milk, soymilk, sugar-free yogurt, frozen yogurt, and/or fresh fruit. Additionally, protein powders are sometimes included in the mix. Most commonly used are whey, casein, egg, soy, and rice, or a combination—each carrying their own "pros and cons." According to Web MD, "protein is one of the body's main building blocks for muscle, bone, skin, and other tissues" and is essential to your daily diet for overall health and wellness. It is critical for athletes' endurance and strength, as well as for fitness enthusiasts and for those seeking to lose weight. This leads to a commonly asked question: how much protein?

Most nutritionists and those in the medical profession "recommend daily intake of protein for healthy adults [of] 0.75 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, or about 45 to 56 g of protein a day, while exercisers' range should be 1.4 to 2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight daily." For those trying to gain weight or increase lean body mass, you may consider siding with the higher figure, and it is better to "feed the muscle"—around 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass.

Fortunately, most of us can obtain enough protein via our daily diet; meal replacement drinks could be your guarantee. Protein shakes and smoothies also offer an avenue for other "nutrients on the run" and a vehicle for providing energy throughout the day, especially if they are of superior quality. They are much better solutions than skipping a meal or resorting to fast food or junk food.

What about meal replacement drinks for weight loss? Mayo Clinic nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. reminds us that "protein shakes aren't a magic bullet"—there is none—but they may help you reduce your caloric intake, and as we know, "burning more calories than you consume is key to losing weight." That said, a balanced diet of natural, whole foods (not processed, man-made foods)—lean protein (animal and plant-based sources), fruits and vegetables, whole grains as well as foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids (fish and plants)—is ideal for all health and fitness goals.

Therefore if you are considering a pre-made protein shake or smoothie, either in a can (not ideal) or at your local fitness center or juice bar like Jamba Juice, make sure you know what is in it—ask questions. Or construct your own using pure and wholesome ingredients. Here are two ideas to get you started:

Power Protein Shake (makes one)


2 scoops of quality protein powder (Living Fuel Living Protein is one of the purest on the market, and they produce a number of other sound products like Living Fuel Super Greens)
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 banana
1/4 cup mixed berries (fresh)
1/4 cup water (or juice, but it will add more calories)

Preparation: Combine first 4 ingredients in a blender or Magic Bullet, add water and mix until well blended.
Nutritional Value: 334.5 calories; 24 g protein; 58 g carbs; 1.6 g fat; 10 g fiber; 170 mg sodium
Note: If you want to add more value to your shake, try 1 Tbsp. of flaxseeds: 48 calories; 2 g protein; 3.3 g carbs; 3.3 g fat; 2.7 g fiber; 3.4 mg sodium.

High-Fiber Vegan Smoothie (makes one)


1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup soymilk
Ice if you are not using frozen (additive-free) fruit.

Preparation: Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Nutritional Value: 175 calories; 5.4 g protein; 35.5 g carbs; 2.6 g fat; 13.4 g fiber; 61.4 mg sodium

Drink to (for) your health, and "I'll be back" for the final installment of our beverage journey. Oddly enough, we are in the middle of the Holiday Season, where "'Tis the Season to be jolly"—marking our last STOP fitting: alcohol, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Nevertheless, I won't be a "party pooper" until after Christmas. In the meantime, "drink responsibly," and Merry Christmas!

Article first published as What You Drink Impacts Your Diet, Part Nine: Meal Replacement Drinks on Blogcritics. Author: Christine LakatosPublished: Dec 21, 2010 at 1:19 pm @ MY DIVA DIET: Fitness Flash