Thursday, April 29, 2010

Yummy alert: Clif Builder's bars

This morning at my training sesh with the fabulous Ashley Bond, I headed to the protein bars counter for post-workout breakfast. We looked at the nutrition labels for any sign of dairy or egg until finally settling on a Clif Crunchy Peanut Butter bar - kind of disappointing considering I'd already had it before.

Other than setting a life goal to market a yummy vegan-friendly protein bar that's not entirely sugar, I went in search of the best protein bar at none other than Whole Foods. I'm pretty sure the staff there thought I was a crazy for label reading for twenty minutes, but it was so worth it!

Meet the Clif Builder's bar, a dairyeggwheat-free energy overloader with 20 GRAMS OF PROTEIN. Yeah, you read right, TWENTY. As in "40% of your daily protein needs." And to much surprise, it doesn't taste like sheetrock! Instead, we get a fabulous array of flavors like Cookies 'N Cream, Chocolate, and Lemon, and this means never reaching for a Hershey bar for your sweet fix again!

While the twenty grams of sugar isn't fabulous, the amount of protein in this baby will keep you full until you can sit down for an actual meal (and this can make a great breakfast on the go!). Throw one in your bag for that long haul in rush hour or sneak a bite during your eight hour shift. So cheers to Mr. Gary, owner of Clif, for giving us yet another reason to eat chocolate.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Good riddance, energy drinks

As you probably know by now if you know me at all -- I am a recovering energy-drinkaholic. It's true, I used to challenge the warning labels asking you to limit your consumption to three cans a day, pull all-nighters thanks to Full Throttle after Full Throttle, and I was pretty convinced I could be the poster child for Monster Lo-Carb. I even started a collection of the difference gas station varieties as a summer project. Realizing how I quite enjoy, um, SLEEPING, I gave them up for a while, but pick one up every now and then just to get through the whole schoolactiviesworkhomework process.

Naturally, it didn't seem like a huge deal when I picked one up before class. I sipped my gianormo can of Sugarfree Red Bull (which, by the way, is super hypocritical considering my last entry on artificial sweeteners...) and we seemed to have no problems. I had a sudden headache but chalked it up to drinking my liquid caffeine too fast.

Then, I kid you not, my right arm went numb and my vision blurred. A wave of nausea came over me, but I figured I could at least make it to the end of class. Walking out, however, my entire arm and tongue fell asleep, my words slurred and collided, and I couldn't put together a simple text message.

My aunt suggested I go to the campus health provider to have my blood pressure checked, but I opted for stuffing my face with bread and water at the student center. Luckily, I feel fine now, but I learned my lesson.

Case in point: no more energy drinks. I'm twenty years old and suffered a possible stroke? Yeah, this isn't okay. It's hasta la never to you, energy drinks, hope you enjoyed my company.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Myth: diet soda

An easy way to cut calories from a typical American diet seems simple enough. Step one: switch from regular to diet soda. The old joke goes, "I'll have a quarter-pounder with cheese, large fry, apple pie and a Diet Coke." I mean, where do you go wrong - you've got all the flavor of a regular soda without the nasty sugar and calories; it's the fizz without the fuss, right?

Taking a deeper look, though, we find one Frankenstein of a monster lying right in our aluminum can. Artificial sweeteners, especially those in diet soft drinks, are notorious for their claims to deliver all the flavor without the guilt, "the sweet sans the sacrifice." Splenda, NutraSweet, Equal, even the latest craze known as Truvia, all sit on top of your diner table, next to your coffee creamer, and snuggled in your sugar-free cookies, but these are far from healthy, and this is obvious in several ways.

1. Aspartame was denied by the FDA on eight separate occasions. It wasn't until a little deal was struck between the inventor and the FDA's leading attorney hiring the man to lead the inventor's law firm that aspartame was deemed "safe." Aspartame is now a $1 billion industry. Interesting.

2. Sucralose (Splenda) is a chemical. Sure, it's said to "taste like sugar because it's made from sugar," but that's only if you consider manually altering its chemical make-up to feature arsenic and heavy metals as sweet as sugar. Mmm.

3. Artificial sweeteners will make you fat. Sounds harsh, but studies have found that artificial sweeteners alter your body's ability to detect sweetness and moderate how much sugar or junk food you take in. Trust me - just because they're "sugar-free" Oreos does not mean you can eat the whole box in one sitting.

4. Sugar replacements are linked to Alzheimer's disease.

5. And cancer. And birth defects. And fertility problems, diarrhea, kidney failure, hair loss, weight gain, blindness, migraines, joint pain, bloating, depression, seizures, and schizophrenia. And, ironically enough, diabetes.

This doesn't necessarily free you up to drink your favorite Mountain Dew by the gallon, though; most regular soda is chock-full of high fructose corn syrup, another yucky food additive found in nearly every kind of processed food. When it comes down to regular versus diet, however, stick with regular and include the sugar and calories in your intake for the day.

Better yet, try the real stuff, the natural kind of sugar found in one of our best friends: fruit. Orange juice is a great way to give yourself an AM boost and fresh strawberries can help protect teeth enamel (not to mention their whitening effect!). Opt against cranberry cocktail for the organic apple juice and you've saved yourself a whole boatload of who knows what.

Just like you wrote in everyone's high school yearbook, "Stay sweet! Don't ever change!", stay away from the modified junk and you can still satisfy that sweet tooth.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

An FYI to my being MIA

YIPES! I haven't updated in years -- forgive me?

NEW POST TOMORROW! The hiatus is over! Yay!