Thursday, May 31, 2007

What Every Dieter Should Know about Metabolism: Thermogenic Foods to Boost Your Metabolism

This is Part 4 and the last in the series, What Every Dieter Should Know about Metabolism. Part 1, Metabolism Basics, can be found here, Part 2, The Role of Muscle, can be found here, and Part 3, Eating Strategies for Increasing our Metabolism, can be found here.

Thermogenic Foods

As I mentioned in Part 3, all foods are thermogenic (metabolism enhancing and calorie-burning) so every time we eat, it turns our metabolism up but, there are some foods that are better at it than others. We should keep in mind that there is no magic bullet or “super fat-burning foods”, and that the differences between the metabolic acceleration of some foods pales in comparison to the effect of physical activity. But as an ongoing strategy it may be wise to include these foods in our regular menu. We may especially want to try it if, and when, we hit a weight-loss plateau. Here is a rundown of the major categories of thermogenic foods with examples of each.

Lean Proteins

The lean proteins are at the top of the thermogenic and metabolism-enhancing foods list; they have the highest thermal effect. Good choices are: chicken breast, turkey breast, the leaner game meats, lean red meat, bison, salmon and other types of fish and seafood, and egg whites.

Herbs and Spices

Spicy foods, especially the ones that contain capsaicin, are especially thermogenic and can raise your metabolic rate for up to three hours after eating. Hot peppers including, the more common cayenne peppers, all contain capsaicin. Other thermogenic herbs and spices are: cinnamon, fennel seed, garlic, ginger, ginseng, guarana, horseradish, kola nut, ma huang, mustard seed, parsley, and turmeric.

Vegetables and Fibrous Foods

Radishes, cabbage, celery asparagus, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, salad vegetables Whole grains and beans metabolize more slowly (and require more energy to digest) than highly processed foods. Good examples of these are sweet potatoes, oatmeal, whole grains, beans, brown rice, and even potatoes. Oats have been proven to lower cholesterol. Oatmeal has the added benefit of stabilizing blood sugar due to its slow release of glucose into the blood stream, and that gives you energy for a longer time.

Citrus Fruits

All citrus fruits are especially thermogenic because of their bioflavonoids and vitamin C. Both of these are known to boost the metabolism. The soluble fiber in citrus may also block the absorption of fat and also contribute to a feeling of fullness.


Green tea: After water, green tea is the champion of thermogenic beverages. It contains the polyphenol antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is also found in both black tea but green tea contains five times as much. EGCG increases thermogenesis and studies have shown that the EGCG found in one cup of Green tea can increase metabolism by from 4-7.5%. The polyphenols in green tea have been demonstrated to promote scientifically significant antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, probiotic, and anti-microbial properties in addition to its thermogenic properties. I have replaced my jug of black tea in the refrigerator with green tea for iced tea and drink large quantities of it throughout the day. It couldn’t hurt.

Coffee: The caffeine in coffee accelerates the metabolism.

Water: Water is undoubtedly a major stimulus to accelerate the metabolism. According to a 2003 article, Water-Induced Thermogenesis, in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, “Drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%....within 10 min and reached a maximum after 30–40 min. The total thermogenic response was about 100 kJ [that’s about 24 calories]. About 40% of the thermogenic effect originated from warming the water from 22 to 37 C. In men, lipids[fats]mainly fueled the increase in metabolic rate. In contrast, in women carbohydrates were mainly used as the energy source…thus, drinking 2 liters of water per day would augment energy expenditure by approximately 400 kJ [about 96 calories]. Therefore, the thermogenic effect of water should be considered when estimating energy expenditure, particularly during weight loss programs.” Well, this isn’t a lot compared to 30 minutes on the treadmill or bicycle, but as part of an overall program of weight loss, it could be significant.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Many health claims are made for apple cider vinegar, but it does have a positive effect on the metabolism and it makes a delicious vinaigrette dressing. I have started drinking 1 tablespoon of unpasteurized organic apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of water with 1 teaspoon of honey a couple of times a day and while I can’t make any health claims for it, it can’t hurt.

Other Thermogenic Foods

Whole grains and beans metabolize more slowly (and require more energy to digest) than highly processed foods. Good examples of these are sweet potatoes, oatmeal, whole grains, beans, brown rice, and even potatoes.

Dieters armed with this information and an understanding of how the metabolism works will be in a much better position to manage their weight loss. With all the choices, it should be pretty easy to incorporate some of the highly thermogenic foods with each meal.

Here is my recap from yesterday.

Daily Dietary Recap-5/30/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1347.18 101.36 g 215.84 g965.4 mg 12.76 g 7.89%

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What Every Dieter Should Know about Metabolism: Eating Strategies for Increasing our Metabolism

This is Part 3 in the series, What Every Dieter Should Know about Metabolism. Part 1, Metabolism Basics, can be found here, and Part 2, The Role of Muscle, can be found here.

Our metabolism burns the most calories for the automatic body functions of breathing, maintaining our body temperature and circulating blood. Physical activity is the second biggest burner. There is even a special term for the physical activity we do when we aren’t exercising, non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). This refers to all the physical activities we do in the course of daily living such as talking, walking, sitting and shifting, fidgeting, and any other forms of movement that aren’t sleeping or eating. The balance of our caloric expenditure comes from the food we eat and what we drink. Even though what and how we eat is the smallest of the calorie-burning activities, we can influence how much is burned by the physical activities we do with our choices. In other words, the choices we make about foods and eating can turn up our metabolic thermostat.

How We Eat

If we are trying to lose weight, or maintain our current weight, we are probably avoiding foods with lots of calories and little nutritional value, empty calories. The only way we can affect the calories we burn is to increase our physical activity and to make wise choices about both how we eat and what we eat. We want to eat in such a way as to get our metabolism in high gear and we can do that by our choice of foods and by our patterns of eating

Eat frequently: All foods are thermogenic (metabolism enhancing and calorie-burning) so every time we eat, it turns our metabolism up. Eating 5-6 small meals or healthy snacks throughout the day without exceeding your total calorie goal enhances the thermogenic effect. Research shows that people who eat small frequent meals burn more calories. Frequent eating and snacking also helps to stabilize your blood sugar and give you more energy throughout the day.

Time your meals: If you time your meals and snacks about 3 hours apart and start your day with a good breakfast and follow your workout with a substantial meal you will maximize your workout and keep your metabolism busy burning calories throughout the day.

Eat Enough: Starvation diets don’t work because the body goes into survival mode and throttles the metabolic engine down. We need to eat enough to keep the metabolism going, but enough to keep the intake-expenditure equation working in favor of weight loss. The Mayo Clinic has a calculator to help you determine what your safe level of calories for weight loss is based on your height, current weight, age, and gender.

Food choices: Natural unprocessed protein foods such as lean beef, turkey, chicken, fish, and egg whites have a high thermal effect. Whole grains and beans metabolize more slowly (and require more energy to digest) than highly processed foods. Good examples of these are sweet potatoes, oatmeal, whole grains, beans, brown rice, and even potatoes. Fibrous foods such as greens and salad vegetables have a high thermal effect as well.

Vitamins and Minerals: Some vitamins and minerals play an important role in the metabolism of food and without them your metabolism won’t operate at peak efficiency.

The B-vitamins, especially B12 help to regulate your resting metabolic rate (RMR).I take a high potency multivitamin high in B complex three times per day.

The antioxidant effect of Vitamin C is also important in keeping your metabolism tuned up. Our cells may progressively undergo oxidative stress as we age and this may slow down our metabolism. Antioxidants can help fight the free radicals that are responsible for this. Some research shows that inadequate levels of vitamin C can reduce the body’s ability to burn fat. Vitamin C is widely available, inexpensive, and excess amounts are excreted, so there is no reason not to supplement with this important vitamin.

Chromium taken in trace amounts (it’s included in my multivitamin) can help with weight loss by improving the metabolism of sugars and carbohydrates. It has also been found helpful for stabilizing blood sugar levels in hypoglycemic and diabetics.

Calcium, green tea, coffee, and some other foods also boost our metabolism. But, that’s getting into tomorrow’s topic, thermogenic foods.

Here is my recap for yesterday.

Daily Dietary Recap-5/29/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1204.56 88.76 g 187.41 g1105.94 mg 11.91 g 8.9%

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What Every Dieter Should Know about Metabolism: The Role of Muscle

This is part 2 in the series, What Every Dieter Should Know about Metabolism. Part 1, Metabolism Basics, can be found here

Muscle drives the body’s metabolic engine. It is denser and weights more than fat and it requires about 20 more calories per pound to maintain than fat. Fat requires only 30 calories per day to sustain it. When you exercise you are not only burning calories, you are also adding muscle and boosting your metabolism for the rest of the day, even when you sleep. You are actually burning the exercise calories twice, once when you exercise and once again when the muscle you built with exercise turns up your daily caloric requirement. If you don’t add calories to sustain the additional muscle, the muscle alone will cause your body to burn fat.

Muscle and Weight Loss

Yesterday I mentioned that if the energy we consume exceeds the energy we expend, we gain weight; if the energy we consume is less than the energy we expend, we lose weight. The best way to lose weight is therefore to increase our energy expenditure while decreasing our caloric intake. Lean body tissue, muscle, is more metabolically active than fat so one way or another we need to incorporate exercise that builds muscle. This is also one reason that men burn calories more quickly than women. Men have more muscle even at the same height and weight than women. Our weight loss program should include a combination of aerobic (walking, running, hiking, bicycling) activities, and strength training to increase muscle.

Strength Training

While all of today’s fitness centers, spas, and gyms have equipment that can accommodate a variety of disabilities while still allowing for strength training, it is important to rely on the advice of a licensed physical therapist or physician before starting a conditioning or strength training program. I am neither. Lifting some types of weights can be done by anyone at any age. Experts recommend that they be heavy enough so you can only do 8-15 repetitions per set.

To maximize your weight loss, you can add an exercise program, or extend the length and intensity of your workout. Adding a few minutes to your workout or increasing the resistance (weight) of your weight training program can both increase your calorie-burning, and extend the length of time that your metabolism is cranked up.

Informal Strategies

I’ve noticed that since I started losing weight I have become more active in the classroom. I sit less and move around the lab from student to student more. When I lecture, I am more animated and move around more. These are examples of ways we can increase our caloric expenditure and boost our metabolism. I had a friend who walked when she was talking on the telephone. Stretching and changing position when you have to sit for long periods can relieve stress and energize the muscles so they burn more calories. It may be possible to find other ways to increase our metabolic output such as walking or bicycling for short distances rather than driving all the time. With today’s gasoline prices, that’s a double win.

Tomorrow: Eating Strategies for Increasing our Metabolism

Here is my recap for yesterday.

Daily Dietary Recap-5/28/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1130.12 72.42 g 194.5 g945.86 mg 10.07 g 7.61%

Monday, May 28, 2007

What Every Dieter Should Know about Metabolism: Metabolism Basics

Metabolism is the rate at which our bodies burn calories in order to maintain our bodies, and perform work. Our metabolic rate affects our Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). Weight loss is a based on a fairly simple formula. If the energy we consume exceeds the energy we expend, we gain weight; if the energy we consume is less than the energy we expend, we lose weight. Therefore as dieters, it is important for us to understand the factors that will increase our metabolic rates. That is what this series of articles is about-increasing our metabolic rate in support of weight loss.

We burn calories every second that we are alive. We burn calories when we are sweating at the gym, eating, or even sleeping. Our metabolic rate describes how quickly we burn those calories. The faster our metabolic rate, the easier it is to lose weight. A faster metabolic rate also means that we can eat more without gaining weight.

Factors that Influence TDEE

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR): This is the body’s rate of energy expenditure just to maintain body functions without introducing any work or exercise.

Thermal Effect of Food (TEF): Chewing, swallowing, digesting, and absorbing nutrients all require energy. Different foods require different amounts of energy. Later on we will be looking at the thermogenic properties of various foods and how we can positively influence our metabolism in support of weight loss.

Daily Physical Activity: Different levels of physical activity, (running, lifting, sitting, talking, etc.) expend different amounts of energy. Increasing our daily physical activity will increase our caloric expenditure.

Body Composition: Body composition is influenced by age, genetics, medication, gender, and even medication. But, the most important factor is the ratio of fat to lean body mass. The more muscle and less fat we have, the higher our TDEE goes. And, that’s a good thing for weight loss dieters.

Aging and Weight Loss

At about the age of 30, our metabolic rate declines by about 1-2% every ten years. If we continue to consume the same number of calories as we did in our youth without increasing our exercise, the result is weight gain and we may grow a paunch and take on the profile of the middle age spread. If we don’t increase our exercise level, our body composition, the percentage of fat to lean, increases in favor of fat. And, fat takes less energy to maintain than lean muscle or bone. Muscle takes about 20 more calories per pound to maintain than fat does.

The Tipping Point

As we lose lean muscle mass in favor of fat, we have less muscle with which to perform work and create more muscle. If we don’t notice what’s happening, we get on the downhill side of the energy equation and it becomes very difficult to expend enough energy to maintain, much less, lose weight. The good news is that when we begin a conditioning program that includes strength training and start to work our way up the energy curve, at some point we reach the tipping point and it begins to work in our favor. With more muscle, we can perform more work which creates more muscle, and more muscle takes more energy to maintain and thus increases our TDEE even when we aren’t working out.

The Answer to Yesterday’s Quiz

Yesterday I described the birthday dinner I cooked for my wife and asked which foods were thermogenic (increasing the TDEE) and which foods were the most thermogenic. The dinner consisted of grilled bison sirloin steak, baked potatoes with non-fat sour cream, Brussels sprouts, green tea, and okra, onions, tomatoes, and Tabasco sauce.

Answer to question 1: All foods are thermogenic, that is, they take energy to chew, swallow, digest, and absorb.

Answer to question 2: The foods in this meal that are considered most thermogenic are: Brussels sprouts, green tea, and Tabasco sauce. Later in this series on metabolism and dieting, I will list the most highly thermogenic foods.

Next: Muscle and Weigh Loss

Here is my recap from yesterday.

Daily Dietary Recap-5/27/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1170.29 71.16 g 173.21 g965.10 mg 14.08 g 10.83%

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Metabolism, Weight Loss, and Diet

Tomorrow I will start a series that I have been researching on the role metabolism plays in determining how many calories we can take in without gaining weight, and how what we choose to eat and drink can increase our resting metabolic rate (RMR). The RMR determines how many calories we burn just maintaining our body functions. It is the baseline above which we try to move when we exercise, build muscle with weight training, and consume highly thermogenic foods (foods that increase our metabolic rate).

For now, I have a little quiz. Today was my wife’s birthday and I cooked a special meal consisting of grilled bison sirloin steak, baked potatoes with non-fat sour cream, Brussels sprouts, green tea, and okra, onions, tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, and Tabasco sauce.

The Quiz

Which of the foods in my wife’s birthday dinner are thermogenic?

Which of the foods are highly thermogenic?

(The answer tomorrow)

Here is my recap for yesterday.

Daily Dietary Recap-5/26/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1271.36 72.35 g 212.55 g1179.56 mg 16.76 g 11.86%

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dining Out on a Diet: Chinese

Today is the day before my wife’s birthday and as I am going to grill bison tomorrow night, I decided to take her out for a birthday dinner a day early. As before, I ordered off the menu while she enjoyed the generous buffet. I ordered steamed vegetables, steamed chicken, about 3 oz., and steamed rice, all without salt or sauce. I asked for Szechuan sauce on the side in a cup. I brought my own Butter Buds to sprinkle on the vegetables and used the old dieter’s trick of dipping my fork in the sauce before taking a bite of chicken. The result was quite satisfactory and I conservatively estimate the following: 458.5 calories, 33.73 g protein, 64.51 g carbohydrates, 3.37 g fat, and 262 mg sodium. This wasn’t bad at all for a dinner out at a Chinese restaurant. I was able to take my wife out for a birthday dinner without compromising my diet at all. This meal qualifies as low-sodium, low-fat, and low calorie.

Here is my recap for yesterday.

Daily Dietary Recap-5/25/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1193.96 59.05 g 190.38 g727.31 mg 14.63 g 11.01%

Friday, May 25, 2007

As I Close In on My Goal, the Loss Continues Slowly

When I found out last week that, based on my body composition using skinfold testing, I was only 7 pounds from my goal, I was excited about pushing across the finish line. The first two months of my diet, I was losing at an average rate of .4 pounds per day, and most recently that has slowed to about .2 pounds per day. When I weighed in at the fitness center today I was a little disappointed to find I had only lost 1 ½ pounds in the last week despite working out more frequently. This continues the trend of .2 pounds of weight lost per day.

I have had some breakthroughs in my strength training and in my work on the treadmill. I have increased my resistance weights and increased my stride and speed on the treadmill. I am probably building muscle and that accounts for the slower loss of weight overall.

I am starting to think about how I will use those extra 600 calories when I go on weight maintenance and, about my new wardrobe.

Current Weight: 164.5 pounds

Cumulative loss: 45.75 pounds

Target weight: 159 pounds, 5.5 pounds away

Here is my dietary recap for the last few days.

Daily Dietary Recap-5/21/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1088.88 69.06 g 160.20 g646.95 mg 12.21 g 9.15%

Daily Dietary Recap-5/22/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1228.71 74.6 g 214.91 g659.36 mg 12.39 g 7.88%

Daily Dietary Recap-5/23/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1377.67 60.74 g 238.13 g407.17 mg 14.99 g 9.07%

Daily Dietary Recap-5/24/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1032.79 49.01 g 205.02 g813.47 mg 11.6 g 9.66%

Monday, May 21, 2007

Balsamic Turkey Scaloppini with Eggplant

Tonight I made a scaloppini casserole with eggplant based on thinly sliced turkey breast. This recipe is a winner with loads of flavor and is very low in calories, sodium, and fat. I used the pre-sliced low fat (99% fat free) Honeysuckle White turkey breast for scaloppini. This recipe makes 6 servings and has only 210.42 calories, 28.61 g protein, 16.53 g carbohydrates, 2.4 g fat (.91% fat), and 128.67 mg sodium.


1 eggplant-small, cut into slices
1.25 lb. turkey breast sliced 1/4'” thick
1 lemon-juice only
1 sweet onion, chopped
1/3 C flour
Onion powder to taste
Garlic powder to taste
Ground pepper to taste
6 mushrooms-sliced
.25 C Balsamic vinegar
1 Can diced tomatoes-no salt added
1 t. Italian seasoning
½ C Mozzarella cheese-shredded, part-skim

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Marinate the turkey slices in the juice of one lemon for at least 1 hour. Meanwhile, slice and chop the mushrooms and onions. Slice the eggplant to cover the bottom of a casserole dish, brown the eggplant in a large skillet sprayed with olive oil pan spray at medium-low heat until soft and place in an olive oil sprayed casserole dish. Mix the flour, onion powder, garlic powder, and ground pepper, and dredge the turkey slices through the seasoned flour. Spray the skillet you used for the eggplant with olive oil spray, and brown the turkey slices, about 1 minute per side. Place the turkey slices on top of the eggplant. Spray the skillet again and add the onions. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any bits of turkey and flour while stirring the onions, add the mushrooms and sauté until the onions and mushrooms are soft. Add 1 can of no salt added diced tomatoes, 1 t. Italian seasoning, and ¼ C balsamic vinegar. Increase heat to medium high and reduce slightly until thick and smooth. Pour the balsamic vegetable mixture over the turkey and eggplant and top with ½ cup mozzarella cheese. Place the casserole in the oven until it is heated through and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.

Blood Test Results

I got the results of my blood tests today and my low-fat, low-calorie diet, and weight loss is working. My cholesterol was 170, not bad for a 57-year-old formerly fat guy and my blood sugar was normal.

Here is my recap for the last three days.

Daily Dietary Recap-5/18/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1341.64 51.92 g 199.51 g928.68 mg 15.45 g 10.35%

Daily Dietary Recap-5/19/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1085.29 50.62 g 198.87 g1077.22 mg 12.13 g 9.63%

Daily Dietary Recap-5/20/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1401.69 79.19 g 283.13 g1069.08 mg 12.91 g 7.96%

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rethinking My Goal: Only 7 Pounds Away

I am much closer to my goal than I thought. Today was the day that I had my skin-fold body composition testing. I also had my blood work done, but I won’t have the results from it until Monday. I have been basing my goals loosely on the body mass index (BMI) even though I know that with my workout schedule, 3-4 days per week, I’ve been building muscle as well as losing fat. I was thrilled when I reached the BMI overweight mark and was no longer considered obese. Today I weighed 166 pounds for a total loss of 44.25 pounds. Previously I set a goal for myself of pre-1998 normal according to the BMI for an index of 27.4 even though I knew that the BMI was devised for a sedentary population. I was flying blind and didn’t really know what was appropriate. When the exercise physiologist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist at the Ouachita Fitness and Rehabilitation Center, Larry Wood, suggested that he could help me determine my goal based on my body composition, I jumped at the chance.

Larry used a seven-site skinfold test using calipers and, along with body measurements, determined that my body fat percentage was 22.4. My target is now 19%, only 7 pounds away, so my target weight is 159. Larry had to tell me this fact 3 times before it sunk in. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; I was nearing the end of this road. About 5 weeks ago I had my body fat analyzed using electronic body fat analyzer and if I were considered normal, and not an athlete, it calculated that my body was 30.6%. I told it I was an athlete, if only a 3-4 day per week fitness center one, and it recalculated my body fat at 27%, still not a good number. I still didn’t know whether I was an athlete or not and wasn’t sure what today’s results would show. They are far better than I could have hoped.

My waist-hip ratio has dropped from .958 to .95 and I have gone from moderate risk for heart disease to normal. A ratio of .9 is considered the ideal for men, but at least the risk for my heart is down. Larry said that when I reach my goal he would help me tone up some areas, I said this loose skin and things that sag, and he said yes. He also said that when I go to a maintenance diet of 2000 calories while continuing to build muscle, my weight might go up to 165 or more, but “who cares, if your body fat is 18%?” Who indeed?

Here is my recap for the last two days.

Daily Dietary Recap-5/16/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1015.83 59.39 g 174.01 g1047.9 mg 12.97 g 11.03%

Daily Dietary Recap-5/17/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1252.33 70.92 g 191.84 g1089.36 mg 16.6 g 11.93%

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Body Composition Testing: Feeling the Pinch

Friday I am going to have two different types of health assessment. In the morning, I will go to the Mena Medical Center to have blood drawn for testing. This is the “after” part of the 8 week walking program I have been participating in as a member of one of four teams from the college and numerous other teams from the community. Our campus wellness committee is paying for the blood work and I will report on it later. In the afternoon, I have an appointment with the Ouachita Rehabilitation and Fitness Center where I work out, to have skinfold body composition testing using calipers.

Body composition testing is intended to reveal the density of the body. The assumption is that there is a relationship between higher levels of body fat and disease conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. I have written before about the Body Mass Index (BMI) which is a crude measure of body fat and is based on sedentary populations. The BMI is not appropriate for anyone who works out to build muscle, nor does it work on the extremely thin. Body composition analysis is a good way to track progress toward health during weight loss and/or fitness regimes. The recommended levels of body fat for men should range between 8-25 percent, and for women, 21-36 percent.

The most accurate way to measure body fat is to measure it after death, but by then, it’s too late. There are various methods to measure body fat, but the most accurate, on a living person, uses underwater or hydrostatic weighing. This isn’t always the most convenient method because the facilities for such testing are usually only available at research institutions and colleges or universities (not a small rural community college such as mine). Hydrostatic testing is based on the fact that bone and muscle are more dense (have more mass per volume unit) than fat. Fat floats in water so a body with more fat is lighter in the water. The accuracy of hydrostatic testing in vivo is +/- 1.5% error when compared with postmortem testing.

Skinfold Testing

Skinfold testing measures body density by taking measurements of how thick the folds of skin are at several points on the body using calibrated calipers. These measurements do not measure body density (or body fat) directly. Instead, they rely on the thickness of the fat in the skin fold and use equations that correlate with body density, and another equation that correlates with body fat. The body fat percentage is determined from the estimate of body density. Skinfold measurement correlates very well with hydrostatic testing, about .9, and has a standard error of about 3%. The BMI, on the other hand, has a much lower correlation of about .6. Skinfold testing is more convenient than hydrostatic testing and more accurate than simply using the BMI. Measurements are taken from either 7 points on the body, the 7 site skinfold test, or on three sites, the 3 site skinfold test. The 7 site test is slightly more accurate at predicting body fat with a hydrostatic correlation of .9 than the 3 site at .89. The sites that are measured are listed below.

7 site skinfold:

  • chest
  • triceps
  • subscapular
  • axilla
  • suprailiac
  • abdomen
  • thigh

3 site skinfold (Men):

  • chest
  • abdomen
  • thigh

3 Site Skinfold (Women)

  • tricep
  • suprailiac
  • thigh

Here is my recap for the last few days.

Daily Dietary Recap-5/13/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1168.39 60.54 g 194.88 g969.22 mg 16.11 g 12.01%

Daily Dietary Recap-5/14/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1392.54 42.49 g 242.79 g827.94 mg 28.86 g 18.32%

Daily Dietary Recap-5/13/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1168.39 60.54 g 194.88 g969.22 mg 16.11 g 12.01%

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Joel’s Healthy Enchiladas

I am fond of Mexican food but most of it is too high in sodium, and frequently fat, to fit my diet. I had a taste for enchiladas the other day and decided that I would try to see if I could come up with a recipe that was low in sodium, fat, and calories. This recipe fit the bill nicely and made enough for a satisfying dinner and a couple of lunches I took to school.

Enchilada Sauce


2 C tomato sauce-no added salt
2 T corn starch
2 T chili powder
1 C water, reserve ¼ C to mix with the corn starch

Combine tomato sauce and ¾ C water with chili powder in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmering boil. In a small cup, add the cornstarch to ¼ C of cold water and stir so the cornstarch doesn’t settle to the bottom, and add it all at once to the simmering tomato sauce. Simmer for about 7 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly and become smooth. Stir with a wooden spoon frequently while the sauce cooks.

Sauce: This recipe makes 3 cups and we will only use one cup in the enchilada recipe, so freeze the rest for later. Nutrients per 1 cup: calories-66.67, protein-.23 g, carbohydrates-1.4, fat-0, sodium-24.48.



9 Mi Casa white corn tortillas (any corn tortillas will do)
1 C Joel's Enchilada Sauce
¾ pound extra lean ground beef (94/6)
1 C black beans (cooked)
1 medium onion, chopped (reserve 2 T if desired to put over the top of the enchiladas)
2 T chili powder
4 T. low-fat mozzarella cheese-grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, Brown ground beef with onions in a skillet sprayed with pan spray. When nearly browned, add 1 C cooked black beans and 2 T chili powder and heat through. This is the filling for the enchiladas. Heat the tortillas a few second in a microwave oven until warmed. Add the filling to each tortilla, roll it, and place seam side down in a casserole dish sprayed with pan spray, repeat until all tortillas are finished. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of grated mozzarella cheese, 1 cup of Joel’s enchilada sauce, and the reserved 2 T chopped onion (if desired) over the tortillas and place in the oven until the cheese has melted, about 15 minutes.

A serving of this recipe is 2 tortillas and it makes 4 ½ servings. Nutrients per serving: calories-225.82, protein-8.22 g, carbohydrates-28.69, fat-4.54 (17.1%), and sodium-206.82. This recipe freezes and reheats well.