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Sport Nutrition Handout Food has the power to either save your body or destroy it BREAKFAST OPTIONS: Cereals (high in fiber): Cheerios, Corn Flakes, Raisin Brand, Total Instant oatmeal (unsweetened and unflavored; add natural fruits/cinnamon to improve taste) Low fat yogurt (add natural fruit to improve taste) Bagels (reduce the amount of cream cheese you use in half) Omelet (fill with lots of vegetables) Waffles (top with fresh fruit and nuts, to sneak in important vitamins and protein) Toast (top with peanut butter or light butter, instead of jelly) Eggs (remove the yolk if possible, to increase muscle, immunity, and vision) Orange Juice (100% juice (avoid fruit drink), whenever possible) Avoid = bacon, doughnuts, muffins, pop tarts, sugar based cereals, toaster struddle LUNCH OPTIONS: Deli sandwich (turkey/chicken, lettuce, tomato, on whole wheat bread) Tuna sandwich (one of the best lunch options) Peanut and Jelly sandwich (add extra peanut butter, reduce the jelly) Salad (with grilled chicken, fish, or shrimp, and lots of vegetables) – limit dressing Soup (chicken noodles is always a good choice) Vegetables w/ or without dip (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green peppers, tomatoes, etc.) Fresh Fruit (apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, berries) Celery w/ peanut butter (a great snack with a crunch) Cottage cheese (try to incorporate into lunch at least once a week) Yogurt (incorporate regularly into your lunch) Nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts-skin intact) Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower) Fat Free or Low Fat Milk (all the calcium and protein still low in fat) Avoid = Candy (limit weekly consumption), fried foods(french fries) ice cream, pop DINNER OPTIONS: Vegetables (asparagus, brussel sprouts, beats, cabbage, corn, green beans, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, onions – fresh/frozen, avoid canned) Protein (Chicken breast *grillded/baked - adds lean muscle, energy, memory) (Fish *tuna, salmon, halibut – acts as an anti-inflammatory, muscle repair) (Beef or pork * the leaner the better) (Beans *soubeans, chickpeas, pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans, lima beans) * frying foods will counteract the positive effects on the body* Rice (all types – brown is the best) Pasta (whole wheat if possible, improves: energy, speed, and recovery) Stir fry (the more vegetables the better) Cook with olive oil (Helps control your food cravings; it also helps burn fat) Avoid = fast food, breaded/fried foods, foods covered with cheese, refried beans -saturated fats, baked beans-high in sugar SNACK OPTIONS: Fresh Fruit (apples, bananas, cherries, cranberry, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peaches, pomegranate, tangerines (seasonal) = blueberries, cantaloupe, raspberries, strawberries - helps you stay hydrated! Other Fruit (dried apricots, cranberries, raisins – apple sauce) Dairy (low-fat yogurt, sliced cheese, string cheese) Crackers Type Foods (animal, graham, wheat thins, pretzel, rice cakes, popcorn (low/no butter) Bars (granola, fig, energy) Trail mix (the less salt/sodium the better) Avoid = candy, cookies, ice cream, potato chips pop, salted/smoked nuts FAST FOOD OPTIONS: Subway (choose one of there many 6 inch subs with 400 calories or less) Taco Bell (eat on rare basis and limit yourself to just two tacos or burritos) Wendy’s (less trans fat & more healthy options then other hamburger restaurants) McDonald’s (eliminate the french fries and choose a small drink) KFC (it’s hard to have “fried” in the name and still be healthy – remove the skin) Arby’s (most of there sandwich’s have creams, dressing or cheese decreasing health value) Pizza (o.k occasionally but don’t over indulge and eat slice after slice) BEVERAGES: Water (make sure you drink several (2-5) bottles of water throughout the school day) Fat Free or Low Fat Milk (control nerve function and prevent muscle cramping) Tea (fresh brood teas have lots of antioxidants, improving optimal health value) 100% Juice (apple, grape, orange) Sport Drinks (only after intense workouts!) Smoothie (see below) Avoid = POP / POP / POP, sweat tea, juice drinks BRAIN BOOSTER SMOOTHIE 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries 1 cup pineapple OJ 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt 1 cup ice BERRY BERRY SMOOTHIE 1/2 cup frozen unsweetened raspberries 1/2 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries 3/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice 1 cup soy milk or 1% milk 1 cup ice MEMORY AID SMOOTHIE 1/2 cup orange juice 1 pint nonfat vanilla or peach frozen yogurt 2 1/2 cup sliced peaches 3/4 fresh or frozen blueberries 1 cup ice MUSCLE BUILDER SMOOTHIE 2 Tbsp peanut butter 1 banana 1/2 cup fat-free frozen yogurt 1 cup fat-free milk KICKSTARTER SHAKE 1 cup skim milk 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate 1 cup strawberries 1 kiwifruit Smoothie Suggestions (add the following) Evaporated milk ½ cup of condensed milk adds 400 milligrams of calcium. Stronger bones mean a stronger frame to hang muscle tissue on. Vanilla extract secret ingredient that makes desert taste good. A couple of drops will do the same for your smoothie. Pumpkin Canned pumpkin add 1 cup for crucial nutrients that most muscle-building diets neglect Peaches A cup of frozen peaches, boost level of cytokines-- compounds that keep colds and flu at bay. You can't work out when you're sick. Steer Clear of the Following – High Fructose Corn Syrup - Continues to make you feel hungry; as a result you stockpile extra calories that are stored as fat Trans Fat - Turns fat in foods into fat on your belly (artificially made fats that are cheap and last forever) . Saturated Fat - Saturated fats are usually found in meats/dairy foods, choose the leaner forms of protein/low-fat dairy Avoid eating large amounts of food within a few hours of going to bed Try to not eat meals lunch/dinner in front of the t.v you will naturally eat more You Call That Health Food? Just because the label says it's good for you doesn't mean it is. Here's how to read beyond the marketing hype Take a moment and consider this logic: 1. Fat-free foods are healthy. 2. Skittles are fat-free. 3. Therefore, Skittles are healthy. Make sense? Of course not. But it's exactly the type of reasoning that food manufacturers want you to use. You see, in our example, we started with a false premise. That's because the term "fat-free" is often code for "high-sugar" -- an attribute that makes a product the opposite of healthy. Case in point: Johns Hopkins University researchers recently determined that high blood sugar is an independent risk factor for heart disease. So high-glycemic foods -- those such as sugars and starches that raise your blood sugar dramatically -- are inherently unhealthy. (See Skittles, above.) Unfortunately, faulty food logic is far less obvious when you're shopping outside the candy aisle. Why? Because making healthy choices isn't as simple as knowing that beans are packed with fiber, or that fruits are loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants. After all, manufacturers often add ingredients, such as sugar, that can instantly turn a good snack bad. As a result, many of the products that you think are wholesome are anything but. And that's why we've created our list of the dirty dozen: 12 "healthy" foods that you can -- and should -- live without. California Roll The upside: The seaweed it's wrapped in contains essential nutrients, such as iodine, selenium, calcium, and omega-3 fats. The downside: It's basically a Japanese sugar cube. That's because its two other major components are white rice and imitation crab, both of which are packed with fast-digesting carbohydrates and almost no protein. The healthy alternative: Real sushi made with tuna or salmon. These varieties have fewer bad carbohydrates, while providing a hefty helping of high-quality protein. Better yet, skip the rice, too, by ordering sashimi. Granola Bars The upside: Granola is made with whole oats, a nutritious food that's high in fiber. The downside: The oats are basically glued together with ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, honey, and barley malt -- all of which quickly raise blood sugar. The healthy alternative: Grab a low-sugar meal replacement bar that contains no more than 5 g net carbs -- those are the ones that affect blood sugar -- and at least 15 g protein. We like Myoplex Carb Sense. Pasta Salad The upside: Most pasta-salad recipes include a variety of fresh vegetables. The downside: The main ingredient is white-flour pasta, a close relative of white bread. The healthy alternative: Egg salad has no impact on blood sugar, and a University of Connecticut review reports that there is no connection between egg consumption and heart disease. English Muffins The upside: One English muffin -- two halves -- has half as many calories as two slices of bread. So it's better for a breakfast sandwich. The downside: Most English muffins not only raise blood sugar significantly but are nearly devoid of fiber, protein, and vitamins. This makes them a great example of a food that provides only empty calories. The healthy alternative: One hundred percent whole-wheat English muffins are a decent start, but we like the kind made from sprouted grains, which contain no flour and are packed with nutrients. For instance, Food for Life sprouted-grain English muffins have twice as much fiber and 30 percent more protein compared with the typical 100 percent whole-wheat version. (For stores, check foodforlife.com.) Croutons The upside: They're so small they contribute very few calories to your overall meal, yet they add a satisfying crunch. The downside: Most croutons are made with the same refined flour that's used in white bread, a food with a higher glycemic index than sugar. The healthy alternative: Sliced roasted almonds. They're crunchy, sugar-free, and high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of healthy fats found in olive oil. In fact, Harvard University researchers estimate that substituting nuts for an equivalent amount of carbohydrates results in a 30 percent reduction in heart-disease risk. Fat-Free Salad Dressing The upside: Cutting out the fat reduces the calories that a dressing contains. The downside: Sugar is added to provide flavor. But perhaps more important is that the removal of fat reduces your body's ability to absorb many of the vitamins found in a salad's vegetables. Ohio State University researchers discovered that people who ate a salad dressing that contained fat absorbed 15 times more beta-carotene and five times more lutein -- both powerful antioxidants -than when they downed a salad topped with fat-free dressing. The healthy alternative: Choose a full-fat dressing that's made with either olive oil or canola oil and has less than 2 g carbs per serving. Fruit Cocktail The upside: The main ingredient is fruit. The downside: If you don't read the label closely, you may choose a brand that's packed in heavy syrup. For instance, a 1/2-cup serving of syrupy fruit cocktail contains 23 g added sugar. The healthy alternative: Look for fruit cocktail canned in "100 percent juice," not syrup. Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter The upside: Even the reduced-fat versions pack a substantial quantity of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. The downside: Many commercial brands are sweetened with "icing sugar" -- the same finely ground sugar used to decorate cupcakes. In fact, each tablespoon of Skippy contains half a teaspoon of the sweet stuff. Reduced-fat versions are the worst of all, because they contain less healthy fat and even more icing sugar. The healthy alternative: An all-natural, full-fat peanut butter -- such as Crazy Richard's or Teddy's -- that contains no added sugar. Pretzels The upside: One ounce has just 110 calories. The downside: These twisted low-fat snacks have one of the highest glycemic indexes of any food. In fact, they rank above ice cream and jelly beans in their ability to raise blood sugar. The healthy alternative: Cheese crisps -- baked pieces of cheese that crunch like chips. Corn Oil The upside: It contains omega-6 fatty acids -- unsaturated fats that don't raise cholesterol. The downside: Corn oil has 60 times more omega-6s than omega-3s, the type of healthy fats found in fish, walnuts, and flaxseed. Studies suggest that a high intake of omega-6 fats relative to omega-3 fats increases inflammation, which boosts your risk of cancer, arthritis, and obesity. The healthy alternative: Olive or canola oils, which have a far better ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s. Vitamins********* / Supplements ********** Drinks ***************** Smart Food Improve your thinking with these trans fat-free foods Trans fatty acids not only clog your arteries, they may gum up your mind and slow your thinking, new research finds. Below, find some foods that are truly trans free. This list is not designed to represent all the choices available to you, but to guide you to some better brands. Check your supermarket to discover your new favorites. Frito-Lay, for example, has removed partially hydrogenated oil (another name for trans fats) from many of its snacks. Kraft (which includes the Nabisco brand), Pepperidge Farm, and Keebler are also working to remove trans fatty acids from many of their products. Not all brands are available everywhere, but you can always check ingredient lists of products for partially hydrogenated oil. The Whole Foods supermarket does not sell any food made with trans fats. BREAKFAST Cereal: Kashi, Barbara’s, Nature’s Path, Health Valley, Arrowhead Mills Granola: Muesli, Health Valley low fat granola, or granola in bulk at your health food store Pancake mix: Maple Grove Farms, Bob’s Red Mill Frozen waffles: Van’s, Lifestream, Kashi Go Lean SNACKS Chips: Terra Chips, Frito-Lay brand, Guiltless Gourmet, Bearitos, Garden of Eatin’, Cape Cod’s Whole Earth Collection Cookies: Newman’s Own O’s, Frookie brand sandwich cookies, Country Choice, Barbara’s, Pamela’s, Nature’s Path, Heaven Scent Graham crackers: Mi-Del, Hain Animal crackers: Our Family Farm, Hain Fig bars: Barbara’s Crackers: Finn crisp, Kavli, Ryvita, Wasa, Kashi, Triscuit, Rice crackers, Craklebred, Barbaras’s, Health Valley, Late July brand Air-popped popcorn LUNCH OR DINNER Pot pie: Amy’s Chicken nuggets: Tyson’s, Health is Wealth Fish sticks: Ian’s breaded fish sticks Flour tortillas: Garden of Eatin’ For Cooking Shortening: Crisco’s 0 Grams Trans Fat Shortening Margarine: Smart Balance tubs Pie crust: Mother Nature’s Goodies frozen whole wheat pie crust shells Muscle Foods for Men Men's Health cover model Gregg Avedon shows you what he eats every day For more than a year, I've been writing about my cooking and eating habits in the "Muscle Chow" column. I used to get asked about exercises. Now it's questions like "Did you ever cheat, or have you always eaten perfectly?" Well, sure I've cheated. How would I know what good eating is if I'd never eaten badly? I had a healthy start, though. Growing up, we never had cookies in the house, we never snacked on chips or sugary cereals, and soda wasn't allowed past the front door. My parents introduced tons of healthy foods into my life -- and I'm doing the same for my kids. I never knew our family was different until I saw the cookie jar on the counter one day at my grade-school friend Vince's house. "You mean you can take a cookie whenever you want?" And yes, I headed for that cookie jar every time I went to Vince's. My parents' strict approach to food meant I could afford -- and savor -- such a treat. When I began training and competing in bodybuilding contests, I realized that my diet was my best edge on the competition. Over the years, I've learned which foods accelerate or slow my gains. I think the right nutritional strategy can help any man build the body he wants. But, as I've said, that's only the first question. There are plenty more, like the ones on these pages, which I've received through MensHealth.com since I started writing the column. So here are my answers -- everything you need to know about creating a model meal plan. Is there a secret to your meal plan? My diet revolves around protein intake. It's the touchstone that determines how many carbohydrates I'll eat in a given meal or snack. I average out my meals and snacks over the course of a day, but the final percentages I like to hit are about 35 percent protein, 55 percent carbs, and 10 percent fat. I stick to white-meat animal proteins like chicken (canned or regular), fish (including canned tuna and sardines), turkey breast, shrimp, oysters, and lobster. Chicken, fish, and turkey probably make up 50 percent of my daily protein. I rotate the rest about once every 10 days. Other protein mainstays include whey-protein powders, eggs (mostly egg whites), yogurt, cottage cheese, and unsalted nuts. Does the rest of your family eat what you eat? It's funny how many people ask what my kids eat. Readers must think I'm this tyrant who's force-feeding his children carrot juice, spinach salads, and unsweetened oatmeal. I just want my kids to have an understanding of which foods are good for them and which ones aren't the best choices. In the end, my wife and kids pretty much eat what I eat. And the kids eat at McDonald's once in a while. It's like me with Vince's cookie jar -- as long as they're eating healthfully most of the time, an occasional fast-food burger won't hurt them. What do you have lying around the kitchen for a quick snack? There's fruit everywhere. On the counter, I keep apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, oranges (I live in Miami), apricots, bananas, and whatever else is in season. (I try to buy organic.) In the fridge, cantaloupe, watermelon, berries, and grapes. There's nothing wrong with impulsively munching on any of these. What's a typical weeknight dinner for you? It's always simple -- that's the key to consistently eating well. Poached salmon with steamed vegetables is about as easy to make as a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, and it's a fast way to get protein, creatine, essential fatty acids, glutamine, and phytonutrients into your diet. This kind of meal is easy and offers a nice, balanced nutritional profile. Remember to keep an eye on your portions, using your palm as a simple gauge to measure a single serving. One palm for protein, two palms for vegetables, one palm for a starch, and you have a nice, balanced meal. Poached Salmon with Steamed Vegetables 1 salmon fillet 1 celery stalk, diced Pinch of lemon pepper Assorted raw vegetables Put the salmon fillet, celery, and lemon pepper in a pot filled with just enough water to cover the fish completely. (Don't fill the pot more than you have to.) Bring the water to a slow boil and let it continue for about 10 minutes, or until the thickest part of the fish is done. Using a spatula, remove the salmon, gently turn it over, and scrape the skin from the underside. At the same time in a separate pot, steam some mixed vegetables. I use a metal steamer that sits at the bottom of the pot. Just fill it with about an inch of water, drop in the vegetables, bring the water to a boil, and cover the pot for 3 to 5 minutes. Here's another easy dish I do on the fly. I make enough for two meals and store the leftovers in the fridge. Pan-cooked Pineapple Chicken 1/4 c diced onion Pinch of black pepper 1 tsp olive oil 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes 1 Tbsp orange juice 8 oz can diced pineapple 1 banana, sliced 1 tsp maple syrup In a skillet over medium heat, cook the onion, black pepper, and olive oil for a minute, until the onion is slightly browned. Add the chicken-breast cubes, orange juice, and pineapple, stirring as you do. Once it all comes to a boil, immediately reduce the heat to medium and add the banana and maple syrup. Reduce the heat, stir, cover, and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve as is or over a small bed of rice. Don't you get the munchies? What do you eat? Of course I do. The key is simplicity. You just want to grab something. Here's the healthy way. Frozen yogurt No, not the stuff that looks like ice cream. I buy containers of low-fat yogurt (caramel flavor) and throw six at a time in the freezer. When I want one, I take the lid off and pop the yogurt in the microwave for about 30 seconds. (The time will vary according to your microwave.) Enjoy. It's as good as ice cream but better for you. Cottage cheese and jam My favorite midnight snack is a small bowl of cottage cheese with some whole-fruit jam mixed in. The protein in the cheese helps keep you anabolic through the night, the glutamine aids in muscle recovery, and the tryptophan will help you get a good night's rest. And the jam just helps it go down easy. Baby food No, really. I always keep it on hand. It's the purest food you'll find bottled or canned. I use the fruit varieties as a postworkout simple carb to replenish my glycogen stores, but the vegetables are good as well. Vein-Poppin' Tapioca Pudding This is a simple postworkout snack that helps replenish glycogen stores. It's not really tapioca, but it has the same texture. - 6 oz jar Gerber Hawaiian Delight dessert baby food (It has pineapple, rice flour, lemon juice, and a little sugar.) - 1 Tbsp soy-lecithin granules - Mix it and eat. Don't you crave burgers? I don't eat much red meat, but I do make burgers once in a while. I buy organic lean ground beef, with no hormones or antibiotics, and make very thin patties. I wrap them separately and store them in the freezer. After thawing in the fridge, they cook in minutes. What do you eat at the movies? I bring a bottle of water and a package of ABB Steel Bar Rivets. They taste like chocolatecovered malted-milk balls but have a much better nutritional profile than anything you're going to find at the theater: 16 grams (g) protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 8.5 g fat. They're easy to carry along, you'll save 15 bucks, and you'll be able to watch the movie with a clear conscience. What about in airports? I fly a lot and see people devour a personal-size pan pizza in the terminal, then lumber onto the flight. Not me. I carry a Tri-O-Plex bar (available at drugstore.com) and a couple of pieces of fruit in my carry-on. And I always bring a bottle of water to stay hydrated. Plan ahead so you don't cave in to the aromas in the terminal. Anything weird in your fridge? Not weird, but maybe unexpected. For instance, I'll bake, grill, or poach boneless chicken breasts six or eight at a time. Then I'll store them in the fridge separately, in resealable bags. That way, they're always there to cut up into salads, onto pasta, or in a sandwich. Sometimes I'll just grab one and eat it in the car. Do you take any supplements? Which ones, and when? I take a multivitamin, whey protein, and glutamine every day. Beyond that, I cycle supplements like creatine and coenzyme Q10. What's cycling? It's important, that's what. I believe cycling enables your body to use a supplement more effectively, especially when you allow your system to recuperate between cycles. For instance, if I were going to do a cycle of creatine, I might go 3 months on and 3 months off. Cycling can be motivating. The first time I took Co Q10, I felt this amazing energy shift within the first 3 days of taking it. After several months, though, the feeling began to level off, and I decided to take a break. When I got back on, I felt that same energy shift. I've determined that cycling my Co Q10 is most effective on an every-2-months basis. But multivitamins, whey protein, and glutamine are exceptions -- I use them year-round. Are some brands of whey protein better than others? Do you have any tricks to make shakes taste better? My favorite is American Whey, Double Chocolate flavor. I buy 25 pounds at a time. Instone Intake Lean is also a great-tasting whey protein in both vanilla spice and chocolate flavors. Mixed with water, this stuff gets so thick you can't drink it through a straw. If yours needs a flavor fix, try these recipes. Chocolate-Whey Protein Doctor 1/2 c soy milk 1 frozen banana 1 tsp maple syrup Pinch of nutmeg 1 serving chocolate whey protein 1/4 c fat-free milk In a blender, blend all the ingredients except the fat-free milk, then slowly add the milk until you produce the right consistency. Vanilla Whey-Protein Doctor 1/2 c soy milk 1 frozen banana 1/4 c canned strawberries (with syrup) 1 serving vanilla whey protein Skim milk (optional) Blend the soy milk, fruit, and whey protein until smooth and, if needed, slowly add a little skim milk until you reach the desired consistency. What are your key kitchen tools? • An espresso grinder for my flaxseeds. Flaxseeds are an excellent source of fiber, and they're rich in omega-3 fatty acids. You can buy preground flaxseeds at a decent price, but in the long run, it's much cheaper to grind your own. I grind a week's worth at a time and store them in the fridge. • A bamboo steamer for steamed vegetables, chicken, and fish. I've used one since college. I put chicken or fish on the bottom level, then longer-cooking vegetables on the next level, and the quickest-cooking vegetables on top. All you do is place the steamer over a pot of boiling water and sprinkle in some salt-free lemon pepper. This way you have a complete meal in minutes. • A hand mixer for blending smoothies. I don't use it every time I mix a whey-protein shake, but it's a great, inexpensive tool. Do you drink? What'll you have? I don't drink alcohol very often, but when I do, I like a nice glass of red wine. Too much alcohol can deplete your body's calcium, as well as potassium and magnesium -- all-important nutrients for building muscle and staying lean. Get Stoked Fifteen fired-up foods that can help you burn away the pounds The shortcut to losing weight? Fast food. Not the kind the clown and the King try to shove down our throats, but rather, edible amphetamines-foods that act like speed for the fat-melting motor known as our metabolism. Eat these foods and you're guaranteed to burn more calories . . . just by sitting there and listening to yourself digest. Only one catch: Like any good buzz, this boost is temporary. "The only way to alter your resting metabolism permanently is to gain or lose weight, or to build extra muscle," says Janet Walberg-Rankin, Ph.D., a professor of exercise physiology at Virginia Tech. But look at it this way: If you have a few of these supercharged snacks and drinks throughout the day, for enough days, you will lose weight. And that's if you're doing nothing. Imagine if you were to stop listening to your stomach serenading you and actually begin exercising, too? The blubber-busting possibilities are endless. So grab a fork; it's time to add fuel to the fire. METABOLISM BOOSTER PACK #1: MILK, WHOLE-GRAIN CEREAL, AND OATMEAL Secret Ingredients: Calcium, complex carbohydrates, and fiber How they work: Complex carbohydrates and fiber pump up metabolism by keeping insulin levels low after you eat. That's good, because spikes in the production of insulin send a signal to the body that it's time to start storing fat. And in order to stockpile fat, your body has to slow down your metabolism, causing you to burn fewer calories, says Margaret McNurlan, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition and medicine at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Since oatmeal breaks down slowly in the stomach, it causes less of a spike in insulin levels than foods like bagels, she says. Besides helping to keep insulin production down, eating breakfast can also help stoke your daily calorie burn. When the U.S. Navy studied the metabolisms and eating habits of a group of its personnel, it found that eating breakfast helped raise the men's metabolisms by as much as 10 percent. "By skipping meals, you slow down your metabolism and prime your body to store fat," says McNurlan. The calcium in milk is a metabolic trigger as well. A University of Tennessee study found that dieters who consumed between 1,200 and 1,300 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day lost nearly twice as much weight as dieters getting less calcium. METABOLISM BOOSTER PACK #2: JALAPENO, HABANERO, AND CAYENNE PEPPERS Secret Ingredient: Capsaicin--the chemical in peppers that gives them their bite How it works: By speeding up your heart rate. A study from the late '80s found that eating a single spicy meal can boost your metabolism by up to 25 percent, with the spike in calorie burning lasting for up to 3 hours after you finish eating. More recently, a study from Laval University in Quebec found that men who consumed coffee plus red pepper-packed snacks and meals were able to burn nearly 1,000 more calories a day than a control group. Small snacks can also help keep your body from running out of fuel-preventing those 3 p.m. office blahs. "When you restrict the number of calories your body has for fuel, your metabolic rate can drop temporarily," says Susan Roberts, Ph.D., chief of the energy-metabolism laboratory at Tufts University in Boston. That makes it easier to pack on the pounds and harder to burn them off again. METABOLISM BOOSTER PACK #3: GREEN TEA AND COFFEE Secret Ingredients: Caffeine and a chemical in the tea called EGCG How they work: Caffeine helps speed up your heart rate. The faster your heart beats, the more calories you burn. EGCG works in a similar way, but instead of revving up your heart, it causes your brain and nervous system to run more quickly-again helping you burn more calories. In studies, researchers found that a combination of caffeine and a 90-mg dose of EGCG taken three times a day can help you burn an extra 80 calories a day. And that's just when your body's at rest. A study conducted by the Canadian government found that soldiers who consumed caffeine in the 12 hours prior to a physical-fitness test not only were able to work out longer before becoming exhausted, but also consumed more oxygen while working out. The body's oxygen requirements are directly related to the speed of-guess what-your metabolism, so the more oxygen you use, the more calories you burn during your workout. METABOLISM BOOSTER PACK #4: LEAN BEEF, PORK, CHICKEN, AND TURKEY Secret Ingredient: Protein How it works: It takes more energy for your body to digest the protein in meat than it does for it to digest carbohydrates or fat, according to Doug Kalman, R.D., director of nutrition at Miami Research Associates, a nationally recognized pharmaceuticalresearch facility. "That means that the more protein you eat, the harder your body has to work to digest it, and the more calories you'll burn in the process," he says. When researchers at Arizona State University compared the benefits of a high-protein diet with those of a high-carbohydrate diet, they found that people who ate a high-protein diet burned more than twice as many calories in the hours following their meal as those eating carbs. Even better, researchers in Denmark found that men who substituted protein for 20 percent of the carbs in their diets were able to boost their metabolisms, increasing the number of calories they burned each day by up to 5 percent. METABOLISM BOOSTER PACK #5: SALMON, TUNA, AND SARDINES Secret Ingredient: Omega-3 fatty acids How they work: By altering levels of a hormone called leptin in your body. Several recent studies suggest that leptin directly influences your metabolism, determining whether you burn calories or store them as fat. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that mice with low leptin levels have faster metabolisms and are able to burn fat more quickly than animals with higher leptin levels. The best way to lower your leptin? Eat fish. Mayo Clinic researchers studying the diets of two African tribes-one of which frequently ate fish and one of which didn't-found that fish eaters had leptin levels nearly five times lower than the levels found in tribes that primarily ate vegetables. The good news, if you don't like fish: Fish-oil supplements may work just as well as the stuff with scales. French researchers found that men who replaced 6 grams of fat in their diets with 6 grams of fish oil were able to boost their metabolisms and lose an average of 2 pounds in just 12 weeks. The Buff Buffet The reasons why these Power 12 foods help build more muscle If muscles were made from chips and beer, we'd look huge. But they aren't, and we don't -- unless you count that sack o' fat up front and dead center. If not Doritos and double bock, then what? We decided to delve deep into the human anatomy to find the secret spot on every muscle where the word "ingredients" is stamped. With the help of Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D., an exercise and nutrition researcher at the University of Connecticut, and a really big magnifying glass, we found it. Seven foods are on the list: eggs, almonds, olive oil, salmon, steak, yogurt and water. Add these ingredients to your stomach and faithfully follow the directions on the package -- "Lift heavy weights" -- and you can whip up a batch of biceps in no time. Eggs: The Perfect Protein How they make muscle: Not from being hurled by the dozen at your boss's house. The protein in eggs has the highest biological value -- a measure of how well it supports your body's protein needs -- of any food, including our beloved beef. "Calorie for calorie, you need less protein from eggs than you do from other sources to achieve the same muscle-building benefits," says Volek. But you have to eat the yolk. In addition to protein, it also contains vitamin B12, which is necessary for fat breakdown and muscle contraction. (And no, eating a few eggs a day won't increase your risk of heart disease.) How they keep you healthy: Eggs are vitamins and minerals over easy; they're packed with riboflavin, folate, vitamins B6, B12, D, and E, and iron, phosphorus, and zinc. Almonds: Muscle Medicine How they make muscle: Crunch for crunch, almonds are one of the best sources of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E -- the form that's best absorbed by your body. That matters to your muscles because "vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that can help prevent freeradical damage after heavy workouts," says Volek. And the fewer hits taken from free radicals, the faster your muscles will recover from a workout and start growing. How many almonds should you munch? Two handfuls a day should do it. A Toronto University study found that men can eat this amount daily without gaining any weight. How they keep you healthy: Almonds double as brain insurance. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those men who consumed the most vitamin E--from food sources, not supplements -- had a 67 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's disease than those eating the least vitamin E. Salmon: The Growth Regulator How it makes muscle: It's swimming with high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. "Omega-3's can decrease muscle-protein breakdown after your workout, improving recovery," says Tom Incledon, R.D., a nutritionist with Human Performance Specialists. This is important, because to build muscle you need to store new protein faster than your body breaks down the old stuff. Order some salmon jerky from www.freshseafood.com. It'll keep forever in your gym bag and tastes mighty close to cold-smoked cow. How it keeps you healthy: By reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Researchers at Louisiana State University found that when overweight people added 1.8 grams of DHA -- an omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil -- to their daily diets, their insulin resistance decreased by 70 percent in 12 weeks. Yogurt: The Golden Ratio How it makes muscle: Even with the aura of estrogen surrounding it, "yogurt is an ideal combination of protein and carbohydrates for exercise recovery and muscle growth," says Doug Kalman, R.D., director of nutrition at Miami Research Associates. Buy regular -- not sugar-free -- with fruit buried at the bottom. The extra carbohydrates from the fruit will boost your blood levels of insulin, one of the keys to reducing postexercise protein breakdown. How it keeps you healthy: Three letters: CLA. "Yogurt is one of the few foods that contain conjugated linoleic acid, a special type of fat shown in some studies to reduce body fat," says Volek. Beef: Carvable Creatine How it makes muscle: More than just a piece of charbroiled protein, "beef is also a major source of iron and zinc, two crucial muscle-building nutrients," says Incledon. Plus, it's the number-one food source of creatine -- your body's energy supply for pumping iron -- 2 grams for every 16 ounces. For maximum muscle with minimum calories, look for "rounds" or "loins" -- butcherspeak for meat cuts that are extra-lean. Or check out the new "flat iron" cut. It's very lean and the second most tender cut of beef overall. How it keeps you healthy: Beef is a storehouse for selenium. Stanford University researchers found that men with low blood levels of the mineral are as much as five times more likely to develop prostate cancer than those with normal levels. Olive Oil: Liquid Energy How it makes muscle: Sure, you could oil up your chest and arms and strike a pose, but it works better if you eat the stuff. "The monounsaturated fat in olive oil appears to act as an anticatabolic nutrient," says Kalman. In other words, it prevents muscle breakdown by lowering levels of a sinister cellular protein called tumor necrosis factor-a, which is linked with muscle wasting and weakness (kind of like watching The View). And while all olive oil is high in monos, try to use the extra-virgin variety whenever possible; it has a higher level of free-radical-fighting vitamin E than the less chaste stuff. How it keeps you healthy: How doesn't it? Olive oil and monounsaturated fats have been associated with everything from lower rates of heart disease and colon cancer to a reduced risk of diabetes and osteoporosis. Water: The Muscle Bath How it makes muscle: Whether it's in your shins or your shoulders, muscle is approximately 80 percent water. "Even a change of as little as 1 percent in body water can impair exercise performance and adversely affect recovery," says Volek. For example, a 1997 German study found that protein synthesis occurs at a higher rate in muscle cells that are well hydrated, compared with dehydrated cells. English translation: The more parched you are, the slower your body uses protein to build muscle. Not sure how dry you are? "Weigh yourself before and after each exercise session. Then drink 24 ounces of water for every pound lost," says Larry Kenney, Ph.D., a physiology researcher at Pennsylvania State University. How it keeps you healthy: Researchers at Loma Linda University found that men who drank five or more 8-ounce glasses of water a day were 54 percent less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack than those who drank two or fewer. There's a better way. Just build your home meal plan around the Abs Diet Power 12 foods: Almonds and other nuts; Beans and legumes; Spinach and other green vegetables; Dairy; Instant oatmeal; Eggs; Turkey and other lean meats; Peanut butter; Olive oil; Whole-grain breads and cereals; Extra-protein (whey) powder; and Raspberries and other berries. When you're on the road, follow our directions to healthy eating. It's like an emergency diet kit from FEMA: When nutritional disaster is in the forecast, we'll help you dodge the heavy winds. The Devil's Candy Food companies are adding an evil ingredient to their products that may turn your body into a fatstoring machine During my first semester in graduate school, I took a course called food science, the study of ingredients in foods. It was 1980. "High-fructose corn syrup has recently been introduced into the food supply," my professor told us. "It's a very inexpensive sweetener and will likely replace sugar in most processed foods." I could tell she wasn't happy about that. She went on to explain that our understanding of how fructose works in the body was very limited, and we had no idea how it would affect the population. Now we know. High-fructose corn syrup is making America fat. How? By shutting off the switches that control appetite. It's more easily turned into fat than any other carbohydrate. And it's everywhere, from the obvious places like Coke and Mountain Dew to barbecue sauce and canned soup. Consider this: In 1970, Americans ate about a half pound of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) per person per year. By 1997, we were consuming up to 62-1/2 pounds each, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. That's 228 calories per person per day, and that figure is based on 6 -year-old numbers; consumption has almost certainly risen since then. And over the same time period, the obesity rate has more than doubled. HFCS is different from other sugars and sweeteners, which can make you fat indirectly, over time. HFCS makes you fat by the straightest possible metabolic path. Let's look at where this stuff comes from, what it does to your body, and -- most important -how to get as much of it as possible out of your diet. Fructose Can Make You Fat The problem with HFCS is the fructose -- a sugar that occurs naturally in fruit and honey--rather than the corn syrup. Corn syrup is primarily made up of a sugar called glucose, which can be burned up as a source of immediate energy, stored in your liver and muscles for use later, or, as a last resort, turned into fat. But corn syrup isn't as sweet as other sugars, which is why the foodprocessing industry fell head over heels in love with high-fructose corn syrup, a cheap and doubly sweet chemical derivative. But what's good for Coca-Cola's profit margins isn't that great for your health. That's because your body doesn't necessarily use fructose as an immediate source of energy. "Fructose is more readily metabolized into fat," says Peter Havel, Ph.D., a nutrition researcher at the University of California at Davis. Havel is among a growing number of scientists who suspect that there's a connection between fructose and America's skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes. We should mention that we aren't saying the small amounts of fructose you get through fruit or honey will make you fat. Fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, all of which are components of a healthy diet. HFCS, though, delivers -- mostly through soft drinks -- amounts of fructose that are unprecedented in human history. "Soda consumption has doubled, from 25 to 50 gallons per person [per year] from 1975 to 2000," says Greg Critser, a journalist and author of Fat Land, which fingers fructose as one of the major culprits in the obesity epidemic. Critser says that HFCS is about 20 percent cheaper than cane sugar. Both contain a combination of fructose and glucose, but the low cost of HFCS has made it easier for manufacturers to supersize their portions. "The serving size of sodas has almost doubled, from about 10 ounces to about 18 ounces" because of HFCS, Critser says. None of which would be a huge problem if we simply ate less of everything else to compensate for the fact that we're consuming more fructose. But we don't; average Americans now eat about 200 more calories per day than we did in the '70s. Fructose Messes With Your Hormones Normally, when you eat a food that contains glucose or starch -- or any other carbohydrate -- your body releases insulin, a hormone that does a series of important jobs to regulate your body weight: First, it tries to push the carbs into your muscle cells to be used as energy and facilitates carb storage in the liver for later use. Then it suppresses your appetite -- telling your body, in effect, that you're full and it's time to stop eating. Finally, it stimulates production of another hormone, leptin. Leptin is manufactured in your fat cells and acts as a nutrition traffic cop of sorts. It helps regulate storage of body fat and helps increase your metabolism when needed to keep your weight in check. "Fructose doesn't stimulate insulin and therefore doesn't increase the production of leptin," says Havel. This is the most important part of the case against fructose in general and HFCS in particular: Without insulin and leptin, your appetite has no shutoff mechanism. You can drink a six-pack of Mountain Dew or eat a half gallon of frozen yogurt, and your body will hardly acknowledge that you've consumed any calories at all. Eat the equivalent number of calories in the form of a Thanksgiving dinner and you feel stuffed. A 2002 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at whether soda itself, or the high-fructose corn syrup in soda, was the problem. The study took two groups of overweight people and had one group drink regular soft drinks while the other drank diet soda for 10 weeks. The regular-soda group gained weight and increased their body fat -- not surprising, given that they consumed 28 percent more calories than normal while on the soda regimen. Worse, they also saw an increase in their blood pressures. The diet-soda group, on the other hand, consumed fewer calories than they normally would, lost weight, reduced body fat, and lowered blood pressure. So now the Diet Coke drinkers of the world have reason to celebrate. How to Find Fructose and Avoid It Soft drinks are the main vein of HFCS, but it's everywhere, even in hamburger buns. Your first line of defense: Avoid regular soda. Next, read nutrition labels. Start with the ingredients. If a label says "sugar" or "cane sugar," the product contains sucrose, which is a 50-50 blend of fructose and glucose. That doesn't seem to be as much of a problem. If HFCS is listed first or second, look at the chart that accompanies the ingredients to see how much sugar is in the food. If it's just a gram or two, don't sweat it. But if you see a food that has 8 or more grams of sugar, and HFCS is prominent on the list of ingredients, buy something else. Remember that your body can deal with a little of anything, but a lot of fructose is a one-way ticket to Fat City. My professor was right when she said that messing with the food supply is a deal with the devil. The money the food industry saved by using a cheap but unstudied sweetener was deposited on your waistline, and it's time to close the fructose account. Where the Fructose is Hiding • Foods high in HFCS or fructose: • Regular soft drinks • Commercial candy (jelly beans and others) • Apple juice (typically about 60% fructose • Pancake syrup • Popsicles • Frozen yogurt • Fruit-flavored yogurt • Ketchup • Highly sweetened cereals • Pasta sauce (especially Ragu) • Canned soup Replace with... • Unsweetened sparkling water or diet soda • Chocolate candy (check the label, though -- some chocolate candy bars may use HFCS as an ingredient) • Unrefined 100% apple juice, grape juice, orange juice, or (here's a shocker) whole fruit • Real maple syrup • Frozen-fruit bars (always check the label; some brands may have added HFCS) • Ice cream • Artificially sweetened or sugar-sweetened yogurt • Mustard • Sugar-free or low-sugar cereals • Sugar-free pasta sauce • Organic, all-natural, or sugar-free soups (check the label -- an HFCS-free soup won't list any sugar) The 20 Worst Foods in America The U.S. food industry has declared war on your waistline. Here's how to disarm its weapons of mass inflation Sure, a turkey burger sounds healthy. But is it, really? Not if you order the Bella from Ruby Tuesday, which packs a whopping 1,145 calories. (And yes, that's before a side of fries.) To further enlighten you on the prevalence of preposterous portions, we spent months analyzing menus, nutrition labels, and ingredient lists to identify the food industry's worst offenders. Our primary criterion? Sheer caloric impact. After all, it's the top cause of weight gain and the health problems that accompany it. (As you read, keep in mind that 2,500 calories a day is a reasonable intake for the average guy.) We also factored in other key nutritional data, such as excessive carbohydrates and fat, added sugars, trans fats, and sodium. The result is our first annual list of the worst foods in America. Eat at your own risk. Worst Fast-Food Chicken Meal 20 Chicken Selects Premium Breast Strips from McDonald's (5 pieces) with creamy ranch sauce 830 calories 55 grams (g) fat (4.5 g trans fat) 48 g carbohydrates The only thing "premium" about these strips is the caloric price you pay. Add a large fries and regular soda and this seemingly innocuous chicken meal tops out at 1,710 calories. Change Your Chicken: 20 McNuggets have the same impact. Instead, choose Mickey D's six-piece offering with BBQ sauce and save yourself 530 calories. Worst Drink 19 Jamba Juice Chocolate Moo'd Power Smoothie (30 fl oz) 900 calories 10 g fat 183 g carbs (166 g sugar) Jamba Juice calls it a smoothie; we call it a milk shake. In fact, this beverage contains more sugar than two pints of Ben and Jerry's Butter Pecan ice cream. Turn Down the Power: Seventy-five percent of this chain's "power smoothies" contain in excess of 100 grams of sugar. Stick to Jamba's lower-calorie All Fruit Smoothies, which are the only menu items that contain no added sugar. And always opt for the 16ounce "small." Worst Supermarket Meal 18 Pepperidge Farm Roasted Chicken Pot Pie (whole pie) 1,020 calories 64 g fat 86 g carbs The label may say this pie serves two, but who ever divided a small pot pie in half? The sad truth is, once you crack the crust, there will be no stopping--which makes this 300 calories worse than anything else you'll find in the freezer case. Pick a Better Pie: Swanson's chicken pot pie has just 400 calories. Worst "Healthy" Burger 17 Ruby Tuesday Bella Turkey Burger 1,145 calories 71 g fat 56 g carbs We chose this burger for more than its calorie payload: Its name implies that it's healthy. The Truly Healthy Choice: Skip burgers entirely (few at Ruby Tuesday come in under 1,000 calories). Instead, order a 9-ounce sirloin with a side of steamed vegetables. Worst Mexican Entree 16 Chipotle Mexican Grill Chicken Burrito 1,179 calories 47 g fat 125 g carbs 2,656 milligrams (mg) sodium Despite a reputation for using healthy, fresh ingredients, Chipotle's menu is limited to king-size burritos, overstuffed tacos, and gigantic salads -- all of which lead to a humongous waistline. Make Over the Menu: There are two ways to Men's Healthify a burrito at Chipotle: (1) 86 the rice and tortilla and request your meat, vegetables, and beans served in a bowl or (2) bring a friend and saw the burrito in half. Worst Kids' Meal 15 Macaroni Grill Double Macaroni 'n' Cheese 1,210 calories 62 g fat 3,450 mg sodium It's like feeding your kid 1 1/2 boxes of Kraft mac 'n' cheese. Your Best Option: The 390-calorie Grilled Chicken and Broccoli. Worst Sandwich 14 Quiznos Classic Italian (large) 1,528 calories 92 g fat 4,604 mg sodium 110 g carbs A large homemade sandwich would more likely provide about 500 calories. Cut the Calories: Isn't it obvious? Order a small -- or save half for later. Worst Salad 13 On the Border Grande Taco Salad with Taco Beef 1,450 calories 102 g fat 78 g carbs 2,410 mg sodium This isn't an anomaly: Five different On the Border salads on the menu contain more than 1,100 calories each. The Salad for You: The Sizzling Chicken Fajita Salad supplies an acceptable 760 calories. But remember to choose a noncaloric beverage, such as water or unsweetened iced tea. Worst Burger 12 Carl's Jr. Double Six Dollar Burger 1,520 calories 111 g fat Carl's Jr. brags that it's home to this enormous sandwich, but the restaurant chain also provides convenient nutrition info on its Web site -- so ignorance is no excuse for eating it. A Simple Solution: The Low Carb Six Dollar Burger has just 490 calories. Worst Steak 11 Lonestar 20 oz T-bone 1,540 calories 124 g fat Add a baked potato and Lonestar's Signature Lettuce Wedge, and this is a 2,700-calorie blowout. Choose with Your Head: The golden rule of steak restaurants is this: Limit yourself to a 9-ouncer or smaller. After all, that's more than half a pound of meat. You won't walk away hungry. Worst Breakfast 10 Bob Evans Caramel Banana Pecan Cream Stacked and Stuffed Hotcakes 1,540 calories 77 g fat (9 g trans fat) 198 g carbs (109 g sugar) Five Egg McMuffins yield the same caloric cost as this stack of sugar-stuffed flapjacks, which is truly a heavy breakfast, weighing in at a hefty pound and a half. Order This Instead: A Bob EvansWestern Omelet starts your day with a reasonable 654 calories and 44 grams of muscle-building protein. Worst Dessert 9 Chili's Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream 1,600 calories 78 g fat 215 g carbs Would you eat a Big Mac for dessert? How about three? That's the calorie equivalent of this decadent dish. Clearly, Chili's customers get their money's worth. Don't Overdo It: If you want dessert at Chili's, order one single-serving Sweet Shot; you'll cap your after-dinner intake at 310 calories. Worst Chinese Entree 8 P.F. Chang's Pork Lo Mein 1,820 calories 127 g fat 95 g carbs The fat content in this dish alone provides more than 1,100 calories. And you'd have to eat almost five servings of pasta to match the number of carbohydrates it contains. Now, do you really need five servings of pasta? Pick Another Noodle: P.F. Chang's Singapore Street Noodles will satisfy your craving with only 570 calories. Or try the Moo Goo Gai Pan or the Ginger Chicken & Broccoli, which have 660 calories each. Worst Chicken Entree 7 Chili's Honey Chipotle Crispers with Chipotle Sauce 2,040 calories 99 g fat 240 g carbs "Crispers" refers to an extra-thick layer of bread crumbs that soaks up oil and adds unnecessary calories and carbs to these glorified chicken strips. Switch Your Selection: Order the Chicken Fajita Pita: At 450 calories and 43 grams of protein, it's one of the healthiest entrées you'll find in a chain restaurant. Worst Fish Entree 6 On the Border Dos XX Fish Tacos with Rice and Beans 2,100 calories 130 g fat 169 g carbs 4,750 mg sodium Perhaps the most misleadingly named dish in America: A dozen crunchy tacos from Taco Bell will saddle you with fewer calories. Lighten the Load: Ask for grilled fish, choose the corn tortillas instead of flour (they're lower in calories and higher in fiber), and swap out the carbohydrate-loaded rice for grilled vegetables. Worst Pizza 5 Uno Chicago Grill Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza 2,310 calories 162 g fat 123 g carbs 4,470 mg sodium Downing this "personal" pizza is equivalent to eating 18 slices of Domino's Crunchy Thin Crust cheese pizza. Swap Your Slices: Switch to the Sausage Flatbread Pie and avert deep-dish disaster by nearly 1,500 calories. Worst Pasta 4 Macaroni Grill Spaghetti and Meatballs with Meat Sauce 2,430 calories 128 g fat 207 g carbs 5,290 mg sodium This meal satisfies your calorie requirements for an entire day. Downsize the Devastation: Ask for a lunch portion of this dinner dish (or any pasta on the menu, for that matter), and request regular tomato sauce instead of meat sauce. You'll cut the calories in half. Worst Nachos 3 On the Border Stacked Border Nachos 2,740 calories 166 g fat 191 g carbs 5,280 mg sodium Worst Starter 2 Chili's Awesome Blossom 2,710 calories 203 g fat 194 g carbs 6,360 mg sodium The Worst Food in America 1 Outback Steakhouse Aussie Cheese Fries with Ranch Dressing 2,900 calories 182 g fat 240 g carbs Even if you split these "starters" with three friends, you'll have downed a dinner's worth of calories before your entrée arrives. Super Substitutions Front-load your meal with a protein-based dish that's not deep-fried. A high-protein starter helps diminish hunger without putting you into calorie overload. And remember: Appetizers are meant to be shared. At On the Border: Chicken Soft Tacos (250 calories each). This entrée is as close as you'll come to a healthy starter. At Chili's: Garlic & Lime Grilled Shrimp. Look for this item in the "sides Anti-oxidants = All purpose compounds that your body fight heart disease and cancers Flavnoids = help eyesight, balance, coordination, short-term memory Soluble fiber = keeps you fuller longer Why Veges = Include vitamin A, C, and K; folate; beta-carotene; minerals including calcium and magnesium; fiber Bananas (High on potassium, fiber, & vitamin B6, protect heart and provide good carbs to keep you full and energized. Cherries (In addition to their vitamin C and fiber content, cherries have been linked to reducing arthritis pain.) Raspberries (antioxidant powerhouse bursting with fiber, manganese, and vitamin C, will keep your heart & brain in top shape. Myth #2: "Sweet potatoes are better for you than white potatoes." The origin: Because most Americans eat the highly processed version of the white potato--for instance, french fries and potato chips--consumption of this root vegetable has been linked to obesity and an increased diabetes risk. Meanwhile, sweet potatoes, which are typically eaten whole, have been celebrated for being rich in nutrients and also having a lower glycemic index than their white brethren. What science really shows: White potatoes and sweet potatoes have complementary nutritional differences; one isn't necessarily better than the other. For instance, sweet potatoes have more fiber and vitamin A, but white potatoes are higher in essential minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and potassium. As for the glycemic index, sweet potatoes are lower on the scale, but baked white potatoes typically aren't eaten without cheese, sour cream, or butter. These toppings all contain fat, which lowers the glycemic index of a meal. The bottom line: The form in which you consume a potato--for instance, a whole baked potato versus a processed potato that's used to make chips--is more important than the type of spud. Myth #3: "Red meat causes cancer." The origin: In a 1986 study, Japanese researchers discovered cancer developing in rats that were fed "heterocyclic amines," compounds that are generated from overcooking meat under high heat. And since then, some studies of large populations have suggested a potential link between meat and cancer. What science really shows: No study has ever found a direct cause-and-effect relationship between red-meat consumption and cancer. As for the population studies, they're far from conclusive. That's because they rely on broad surveys of people's eating habits and health afflictions, and those numbers are simply crunched to find trends, not causes. The bottom line: Don't stop grilling. Meat lovers who are worried about the supposed risks of grilled meat don't need to avoid burgers and steak; rather, they should just trim off the burned or overcooked sections of the meat before eating. Myth #4: "High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is more fattening than regular sugar is." The origin: In a 1968 study, rats that were fed large amounts of fructose developed high levels of fat in their bloodstreams. Then, in 2002, University of California at Davis researchers published a well-publicized paper noting that Americans' increasing consumption of fructose, including that in HFCS, paralleled our skyrocketing rates of obesity. What science really shows: Both HFCS and sucrose--better known as table sugar--contain similar amounts of fructose. For instance, the two most commonly used types of HFCS are HFCS-42 and HFCS-55, which are 42 and 55 percent fructose, respectively. Sucrose is almost chemically identical, containing 50 percent fructose. This is why the University of California at Davis scientists determined fructose intakes from both HFCS and sucrose. The truth is, there's no evidence to show any differences in these two types of sugar. Both will cause weight gain when consumed in excess. The bottom line: HFCS and regular sugar are empty-calorie carbohydrates that should be consumed in limited amounts. How? By keeping soft drinks, sweetened fruit juices, and prepackaged desserts to a minimum. Myth #5: "Salt causes high blood pressure and should be avoided." The origin: In the 1940s, a Duke University researcher named Walter Kempner, M.D., became famous for using salt restriction to treat people with high blood pressure. Later, studies confirmed that reducing salt could help reduce hypertension. What science really shows: Large-scale scientific reviews have determined there's no reason for people with normal blood pressure to restrict their sodium intake. Now, if you already have high blood pressure, you may be "salt sensitive." As a result, reducing the amount of salt you eat could be helpful. However, it's been known for the past 20 years that people with high blood pressure who don't want to lower their salt intake can simply consume more potassium-containing foods. Why? Because it's really the balance of the two minerals that matters. In fact, Dutch researchers determined that a low potassium intake has the same impact on your blood pressure as high salt consumption does. And it turns out, the average guy consumes 3,100 milligrams (mg) of potassium a day--1,600 mg less than recommended. The bottom line: Strive for a potassium-rich diet, which you can achieve by eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and legumes. For instance, spinach, broccoli, bananas, white potatoes, and most types of beans each contain more than 400 mg potassium per serving. In Defense of Butter Sure, butter is rich in fat--especially the saturated kind. But most of this fat is composed of palmitic and stearic acids. Research shows these saturated fatty acids either have no effect on your cholesterol or actually improve it. Not enough to convince you that butter--in moderation, of course--isn't a dietary demon? Keep reading. One pat of butter contains just 36 calories, and the fat it provides helps you feel full longer. Butter is one of the top sources of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a natural fat that's been shown to fight cancer. Studies show the fat in butter improves your body's ability to absorb vitamins A, E, D, and K. So a pat of butter on your vegetables actually makes them healthier (and tastier).