Be Smart about Gluten-Free Foods

Are you going gluten-free?  If so, you are in good company.  Many Americans are reducing the gluten in their diets.  Some are doing this because they have a confirmed diagnosis of Celiac disease, some are gluten sensitive, and others are finding that reducing gluten aids them in weight loss.

What is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in certain grains such as wheat, barley, rye, spelt and semolina.  It not only gives baked goods their characteristic texture and chewiness, but it is also used in the processing of many other foods to add thickness, flavor and added protein.

If someone has Celiac disease, they have a condition in which the body experiences an immune reaction when gluten is eaten.  The result is damage to the inside of the small intestine, which impairs absorption of nutrients.  Gluten sensitivity is different in that the reaction to gluten is less severe and less damaging to the small intestine, but physical symptoms are still present, such as nutritional deficiencies, gastro intestinal difficulties and headaches. In spite of their differences, both conditions are treated by removing gluten from the diet.

It is not just those who have a diagnosed sensitivity to gluten who are removing it from their diets, though.  Many healthy people are reducing gluten, usually because they are interested in reducing carbohydrates in their diets.  Most breads, pastas and baked goods contain carbohydrates, because they contain wheat.  If you are interested in lowering your carb intake, going-gluten free is one way to do that because traditionally, many baked goods are made with wheat, which is high in gluten.  When you remove wheat from your diet, you have fewer choices when it comes to carbs.

But “fewer choices” does not mean “no choices.”  With the explosion of interest in gluten-free products, food manufacturers have stepped-up the production of baked goods that look, taste and feel like traditional, gluten-containing foods, but are in fact, gluten-free.  From breads to cinnamon rolls to pastas, there is a gluten-free food to satisfy nearly any craving you might have.

This is good news for those who need alternatives, but it is also bad news, because it is easy to mistake gluten-free for carb-free.  The two are not the same.  Carbs are found in many other grains and foods, and are often present in significant amounts in gluten-free products.  It is tempting to think that because a cracker or brownie is gluten free that you can eat as many as you want.  You can’t.  Those crackers and brownies are likely to be very high in carbs and calories, as well as other unhealthy ingredients, such as sugar.  When you eat these foods, you are simply trading one carb source for another.  If weight loss through carb restriction is your goal, this will slow down your progress.

Your best defense is to be informed.  Know what you are eating.  Before you eat a gluten-free product, read the label.  Check the ingredients, the carb and sugar count and the number of calories it contains. And stay on the lookout for foods that are both low in carbs and low in gluten.  And of course, practice moderation.  Too much of anything is seldom healthy.

To your success,

Brian Lehner

If you’re ready to take it to the next level let me know! To schedule your free consultation please click HERE

Reality Check: Say No to Summer Weight Gain

So you spent the winter working hard.  You exercised consistently, you were careful to eat more healthy foods and you watched your portion sizes.  Why?  So you would look great at the lake and have plenty of energy to enjoy summer.  You greeted summer with a healthy, toned body.

But summer, in spite of all the fun and relaxation it brings, can be tricky and deal us a cruel blow when it comes to our fitness.

Have you noticed the scale creeping up a little over the last couple of months?  If so, you are not alone. Summer is a very easy time to overindulge and pick up those pounds that you shed during the winter months.

Is that what you want though?  Are you willing to undo all that you worked so hard to accomplish? 

Remember that bad habits creep in slowly.  Perhaps you are skipping your workouts a couple days each week, because ‘You have so much to do.’ Or maybe you have been indulging in unhealthy food or drinks a little more frequently when you are with friends.  It happens-little by little.  It happens one small choice at a time.  But those choices add up fast.

If you realize that you have been slipping up, it’s not too late to turn around and get back on track. Really!  There is still plenty of summer left for you to regain whatever ground you might have lost and get back to awesome.

Here are a few common reasons that people gain weight in the summer and how to remedy them.

  1. Disrupted sleep cycle. Summer brings with it more daylight and longer days.  This extra sunshine can cause our circadian rhythms to change which causes us to sleep less.  But if we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies will respond by packing on a few extra pounds!  The solution?  Be diligent to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
  2. Baby, it’s hot out there! When it’s hot and humid, we tend to move around less.  Our energy is lower and besides, who wants to sweat even more, right?  But the less you move, the slower your metabolism is and the fewer calories you will burn.  Be intentional about keeping up with your exercise.  Find indoor exercise alternatives like boot camp classes or maybe even take up swimming.  Just keep moving.
  3. On the road again. Summer meals travel and travel means healthy eating just got harder.  Eating on the road presents big challenges if you are trying to eat clean.  Before your summer trips, brainstorm some ways to reduce the amount of fast food that you will consume while you are away.  Consider packing a cooler with hummus, nuts, lean proteins sources like chicken, fresh fruit and raw veggies.
  4. Caution: Cookouts!  Ahhh…summer cookouts, parties, family reunions.  All this spells danger because the food at these festivities is usually about as unhealthy as you can get!  Make sure you pass on the hotdogs, potato salad, oily salad dressings and rich cakes.  Look for grilled vegetables, fresh fruit and lean cuts of meat prepared without greasy marinades.

Don’t let the summer creep undo all the hard work you’ve done to get you where you are right now.  Decide to fight back.  Make up your mind to finish well this summer.  Your future self will thank you!

Prepare for Success: Back to School Tips

Have you noticed?  The days are getting a little shorter, store aisles are full of school supplies and you may have seen a school bus or two making practice runs in your neighborhood.  All this can only mean one thing:  it’s back to school time!

If you are like most people, you are not quite ready to say goodbye to the relaxing days of summer.  Late nights and lightly-scheduled days are a welcome break after a year of early mornings and homework deadlines.  Those slow days of summer are such a welcome break!

But with the approach of the new school year comes the necessity to ease back into a routine that helps your children succeed.  Changing routines can be tough under any circumstances.  But when our routines change from ‘fun and relaxing’ to ‘less fun and somewhat stressful,’ it can be even tougher to pull off!

The best way to lessen the shock of a new school year is to ease your children into their school routine before school starts. Getting a jump start on new schedules and new responsibilities will allow them to adjust before school actually starts and the pace really picks up.

Here are some areas to focus on for back to school prep:

  1. Sleep schedule. Almost without realizing it, we tend to slip into a different sleep pattern during summer—later nights make for later wake times. This is probably due to several factors, including the fact that the days are longer and the school bus isn’t coming!   When school starts, however, your children need to be on a different sleep schedule, otherwise they will have a very hard time getting up.  Try this:  a few days before school starts, ease their bed times and wake times back 15 minutes each day.  This will help them to painlessly get used to a more school-friendly sleep schedule.
  2. Daily schedule. Your children have probably grown accustomed to low pressure schedules this summer.  However, when school starts, having a schedule is critical.  There are only so many hours each day to fit in school, homework, extra-curricular commitments, church and chores.  Make it all work by creating a schedule that your children can follow.
  3. Chores. The only way to make a busy household run smoothly is for everyone to pull their share of the load.  Assign each of your children age-appropriate chores to do.  Offer rewards for a job well done and give additional chores for non-compliance. Even preschoolers can help around the house by emptying small trash cans and picking up toys and books.
  4. Planners. Buy each of your children a planner and help them to get used to using it before school starts.  The more familiar they are with their planner, the easier it will be for them to use it when classes and other activities get underway.  Encourage them to write in their class schedule, their homework schedule, their sports and club schedules and even their chore routines.
  5. Fitness. It goes without saying that your children need to move. Literally.  Sitting for long hours in the classroom and on the bus hinders their ability to concentrate and also lowers their energy levels.  If your school does not offer a physical education program, get your child involved in some kind of exercise routine.  Not only will their grades likely improve, but they will be less stressed in general and will be more able to handle the pressures that school brings.

Back to school prep does not have to be difficult; it just takes a little planning.  Using these tips will help to instill good habits in your children that will set them up for success.

To your success,

Brian Lehner CSCS, MES, Pn2

To schedule your free consultation please click HERE or shoot me an email at lehnerfitness@gmail.com