All Posts By Amy Reiter

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire and Wine Spectator, among other print publications, as well as for websites including The Daily Beast, MSN, Babble, AOL/Huffington Post and Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer.

Are You An Exercise ‘Non-Responder’? Don’t Give Up Hope!

by in Fitness, January 21, 2017

Exercise is supposed to be the answer for myriad health concerns – from cardio-respiratory fitness and blood pressure maintenance to weight control – but there are those of us who may feel that, no matter how much we exercise, we don’t see much in the way of results. Turns out, it may not be in our heads.

Fitness experts estimate that anywhere from 20 to 45 percent of those who undertake a form of regular exercise experience no measurable physiological change as a result – and they even have a name for us: non-responders.

“Although it would appear to be intuitive that all previously untrained and sedentary individuals undertaking exercise can expect positive changes to their physiological function and overall health, the scientific literature is quite clear that for a segment of the population this is indeed not the case,” says Lance Dalleck, associate professor of exercise and sport science and director of the Center for Wellness and Human Performance at Western State Colorado University, who has done research on non-responders.

One unfortunate effect of the phenomenon is that non-responders can become frustrated with their lack of progress and decide it’s not worth it to stick with their exercise program – or, really, any exercise program.

But recent research has indicated non-responders to one form of exercise may yet respond to another, and so it may be just a matter of finding the right exercise program for you. That study, which was conducted Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and the University of Ottawa, determined that non-responders could benefit by swapping out one form of exercise for another. Read more

Why Exercise Doesn’t Always Lead to Weight Loss

by in Fitness, January 8, 2017

Exercise more and lose weight: So many of us resolve to do both those things in the new year. Every year. But do they actually go hand in hand? And why does it sometimes feel like we actually gain weight when we increase the amount of exercise we get, and lose weight when we moon around the house like a lump? (I know, it’s cold outside, but still…).

That question was recently put to the Well bloggers at the New York Times, who confirmed that studies show that our hunch is correct: We don’t always lose – and sometimes gain – weight when we exercise more. That’s mostly because exercise makes us hungrier and so we eat more – off-setting the calories we’ve burned.

What’s a health-minded person to do? We asked nutrition coach, consultant and yoga teacher Alexandra Caspero MA, RD, CLT, RYT of Delish Knowledge, and the author of the book Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation, for her perspective. She works to help clients find their “happy weight.” Here’s what she had to say:

Why do we sometimes gain weight when we start exercising? Shouldn’t it be the opposite? And does that mean we should not exercise if we want to lose weight?

Weight loss is just one of the many benefits to exercise, so I still encourage movement, even if weight gain is a side effect. It’s beneficial for cardiovascular, mental and skeletal health, among other things. And, this isn’t true across the board. The more important thing to focus on is that exercise alone doesn’t equal weight loss; the diet still counts. I break it down to 80/20: Exercise is 20 percent of the equation; diet is 80 percent. Spending 30 minutes on the treadmill likely burns 300-400 calories for the average person, which can easily be negated by an extra serving of pasta. Additionally, exercise may increase appetite and many of my clients think exercising gives them a reason to “eat more,” which isn’t always the case. Read more

Re-Examining the Health Benefits of Fitness Trackers

by in Fitness, January 1, 2017

Do you wear a fitness tracker, a doohickey that counts the steps you take and/or the calories you burn every day? If so, you’re in good company. An estimated 21 percent of U.S. Internet-connected adults — yep, more than one in five — use some form of wearable technology, according to research firm Forrester.

Although some pricier wearable fitness trackers promise complicated analytics, most people use wearable fitness trackers to count steps or track distance “with a weight loss goal in mind,” says nutrition consultant, registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and Healthy Eats contributor Dana Angelo White.

A clinical trial conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, however, suggests those wearable fitness trackers may not actually help us lose weight. In fact, the study indicated, just the opposite may be true. The devices may actually backfire, prompting people to eat more and undercutting weight-loss efforts. “It’s somewhat common for people to use exercise as an excuse to overindulge,” White notes.

The study’s research team put 471 overweight study participants on a low-calorie diet and urged them to exercise more, providing them with support such as group counseling. All began to lose weight. After about six months, half the study cohort was asked to self-report their diet and exercise behaviors; the other half was given wearable devices to monitor them. Two years later, both groups remained active, but those who were using the fitness trackers lost less weight than those who were not, prompting the researchers to conclude that “devices that monitor and provide feedback on physical activity may not offer an advantage over standard behavioral weight loss approaches.  Read more

How to Combat Holiday Weight Gain

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Healthy Holidays, December 7, 2016

Merry as they may be to many, for those of us who try to eat healthy and keep our weight under control, the holidays can be brutal. We step on the scale, cookie crumbs barely brushed from our lips, and watch as the pounds tick up into the danger zone. Ho-ho-how did this happen to us again this year?

Of course, we know how it happened. We made a few too many trips to the snack table, drank more eggnog than we knew was good for us and indulged a little too enthusiastically at family dinnertime. The good news is that it all tasted delicious and we enjoyed it in the company of family and friends. The bad news is that feeling festive as we eat those holiday delicacies doesn’t make them any less fattening — for proof, just look at Santa.

Sure, we’ll resolve to be better next year: “Lose weight and eat healthier” is penned in at the No. 1 spot on our New Year’s resolution lists every year. But what if we could do something to start the year without all the disadvantages of those holiday pounds?

Writing in the Washington Post, nutrition expert Jae Berman offers 11 (count them!) tips for keeping the pounds at bay over the holidays. Her suggestions include eating a small balanced meal before you go to a holiday gathering and eating your vegetables and drinking water once you’re there. Savor every bite, don’t drink too much alcohol, bring snacks in your bag to make sure you don’t get super hungry between meals (and then go crazy heaping your plate when dinner is served), she advises, and don’t forget to exercise.

Possibly Berman’s most-important piece of advice? Don’t beat yourself up for the moments you fall short. “Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break,” she writes. “Acknowledge the successes.” Read more

Will Soda in Your City Soon Cost More?

by in Food News, November 23, 2016

Is it time for budget- and health-minded beverage buyers to switch to seltzer or stick to water? If you live in a growing number of U.S. cities, sucking down sodas and other sugary beverages will now cost you more, thanks to new taxes.

Here’s a rundown of cities and counties that have enacted soda taxes, starting with five that did so just this month:

Cook County, Ill.: The populous Illinois county that is home to Chicago will see a penny-per-ounce beverage tax — over and above the usual sales tax — added to the purchase of sweetened drinks such as soda, iced tea, lemonade and sports drinks, whether bottled, canned or from a fountain. The tax, which goes into effect July 1, was approved by the Cook County Board on Thursday, November 10, and is expected to raise $224 million in revenue per year.

San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, Calif.: Voters in these Bay Area municipalities overwhelmingly passed soda taxes on Tuesday, November 8, in an effort to lower rates of diabetes and obesity — and raise revenues. Read more

Nutrition News: Bubbles to Quench, Cranberry Effects Questioned, Benefits of Slow Eating

by in Food News, November 4, 2016


Slow … down
If family dinner with your kids sometimes feels like a race to the clean-plate finish line, nutrition educator Casey Seidenberg knows how you feel. Writing in The Washington Post, Seidenberg suggests explaining to your kids, as she has to her sons, the digestive ramifications of all that rushing: “shoveling our food creates all kinds of issues, such as indigestion, constipation, inflammation and malabsorption of nutrients, which can then contribute to larger health problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis and heart disease.” So it makes a lot of health sense to eat meals a bit slower, rather than wolfing them down. Take a moment to “cherish” the way your meal smells and tastes, she advises; then chew the heck out of it. “In this fast and furious world, any time to slow down together sounds awfully nice,” she says. Hard to argue. Read more

Nutrition News: Next-level healthy eating, diet and gut health, embrace moderation

by in Food News, October 28, 2016


Next-level healthy eating
You’d think eating foods that are good for you would be enough, but it turns out you can actually do more. Writing in The Washington Post, dietitian Cara Rosenbloom reveals eight ways you can take healthy foods up to the next level. For instance, if you add black pepper (even just a sprinkle) to curry, you boost the anti-cancer benefits of the antioxidant curcumin. If you drink wine with fish, you may elevate the levels of Omega-3 fats in your blood, which may help protect against heart disease. And when you eat an apple, cucumber, potato, peach or kiwi, leave on the peel, where most of the antioxidants, vitamins and fiber are stored. “In the case of apples, a major component of the peel is quercetin, which is an antioxidant associated with a decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes,” Rosenbloom explains. There are five more tips where those came from. Read more

Nutrition News: Getting Kids to Eat Healthy; the Case for Pale Veggies; a Breakfast Challenge

by in Food News, October 21, 2016

Raise healthy eaters
Trick-or-treating will soon be upon us, scattering bite-size candies in its wake. Given that, how can you nudge your kids toward healthier eating? Writing in The New York Times, psychologist and author Lisa Damour offers a trio of suggestions. No. 1: Frame eating as a “zero-sum game.” Let children know they can take in only so much food, and explain to them that unprocessed foods are better than processed foods at providing their bodies with the nutritional elements needed to lower inflammation, prevent disease and boost immune systems. No. 2: Make it about “self-care.” Damour recommends we remind children that eating healthily is key to taking care of themselves and that they can generally rely on their own appetites to regulate consumption. No. 3: Find broader, “beyond-the-self” motivations. Damour suggests underscoring the broader environmental effects of food choices when discussing them with your kids, telling them, for instance, “Eating a real green apple is way better for the environment than a green-apple-flavored Starburst.” And, she reminds us that the behavior we model sends our kids a message as well. In other words, we should probably all put down the Starburst and reach for an apple. Read more

Nutrition News: Naked Juice Is Sued, Junk Food Is Jettisoned and Big Soda Displays Strange Behavior

by in Food News, October 14, 2016

Duped by Juice
When you reach for a Naked Juice, you probably think you’re doing something good for yourself. After all, its label promises “goodness inside.” But, in a class-action lawsuit filed last week, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has accused Naked Juice parent company PepsiCo of misleading consumers by suggesting that the fruit and veggie juices are primarily filled with ultra-healthy “acai berry, blueberries, kale, and mango,” when in reality the product lines’ chief ingredients are orange juice or “cheap, nutrient-poor apple juice.” CSPI contends the juices’ “no sugar added” claim is misleading as well, suggesting that the juices’ sugar content is low, when actually it’s quite high — nearly as much per bottle as a 12-ounce can of Pepsi. It also accuses PepsiCo of flouting Food and Drug Administration regulations by failing to not make clear that the drinks are “not a low-calorie food.” Consumers, CSPI litigation director Maia Kats said, are “not getting what they paid for.” PepsiCo has called the allegations in the suit “baseless.” Read more

Nutrition News: Autumn Weight Gain, Salt Reduction, Kids and Online Ads

by in Food News, October 7, 2016


Adver-games exposed
Once upon a time, parents’ fears about advertising’s sneaky effects on their kids were more or less confined to TV ads. Nowadays food and drink companies are able to reach kids online in ways parents aren’t even aware of — and research indicates that exposure to these marketing efforts does influence kids’ consumption habits. Writing in the Washington Post, nutrition expert Casey Seidenberg ticks off a few of those methods. They include using “adver-games” featuring the products, directing kids to their products to retrieve “codes” and incentivizing them to invite their friends to play; using GPS tracking and notifications to push coupons and discounts to them on their phones based on their locations; using social media to track and reach them and encourage them to influence others in their peer network; and collecting and analyzing kids’ personal data via mobile apps to better target them and build loyalty. Creepy. Read more

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