Is Canned Tuna Good For You?

Looking at the problem with Ramen, I was worried that canned tuna fish – my next favorite for a quick and easy meal – may not be healthy for me either.  Happily, it looks like tuna fish is still good for you.  One article on Healthy Eating SFGate listed all sorts of happy news:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The small amount of fat present in canned light tuna is mostly the healthy unsaturated kind, including omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids support a healthy brain and promote proper growth and development. These essential fatty acids reduce inflammation in your body, which can reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis.
  • Niacin: A 3-ounce serving of canned light tuna contains 11.3 milligrams of niacin toward the 14 milligrams women need each day and the 16 milligrams that men need. Niacin is a B-vitamin that helps keep your digestive system, skin and nerves healthy.
  • Vitamin B12: You need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 each day, and a 3-ounce serving of canned light tuna supplies 2.5 micrograms. Vitamin B12 supports the normal function of your brain and also aids in the formation of red blood cells.
  • Mercury: You can safely eat a serving of canned light tuna every three or four days and a serving of canned albacore tuna every nine-to-14 days, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

There’s only 179 calories in a can of tuna fish so it sounds like I may be eating a lot more of it at lunch.

Just as a side note, there was a recall of Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea cannd tuna fish in 2013.  “There have been no consumer reports of illnesses attributed to these products,” Steve Mavity, Bumble Bee’s senior vice president of technical services and corporate quality assurance, said in a statement. “But because we’ve identified an issue with seal tightness, we’re voluntarily recalling products to ensure the highest margin of safety and quality.” Loose seals and seams can lead to bacterial contamination, which can cause food poisoning, according to the FDA.

Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee, two of the major tuna brands that you’re likely to see on the shelf at your local grocery store, will combine into one as the owner of Chicken of the Sea.  The merger, if approved, would probably happen in the second half of 2015.

Greenpeace has posted notes that Bumble Bee and companies like it, continue to rely on fishing practices that kill millions of marine animals every year, including sharks, turtles, rays and juvenile fish of all kinds. These practices threaten the very ecosystems that will keep our oceans healthy for generations to come.

How Bad is Ramen Anyway?

marruchan ramenI love Maruchan Ramen noodles. Unabashedly.  I ate them a lot in high school and I still order them in large batches from Amazon.com.  They are fast and filling and warm during the winter months. I figured I was making Ramen more healthy by adding peas and/or carrots and, occasionally, chicken. Ingredients: Ramen Noodle: Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil (Contains One Or More of The Following: Canola, Cottonseed, Palm) Preserved By Tbhq, Salt, Soy Sauce (Water, Wheat, Soybeans, Salt), Potassium Carbonate, Sodium (Mono, Hexameta, and/Or Tripoly) Phosphate, Sodium Carbonate, Turmeric. Soup Base: Salt, Monosodium Glutamate “MSG”, Sugar, Hydrolyzed Corn, Wheat and Soy Protein

More recently, I thought I was really getting ahead of the cnonggshim noodleurve by purchasing Nongshim Spicy Chicken Noodle Bowls.  The label says there is no MSG added, and 0 g trans fat (although the Maruchan Ramen does not contain trans fat either.)  The Nonghim Noodles have an endorsement by Professional Chefs (a 2011 Chef’s Best Award)  and there’s 30% less sodium than their regular product.  They come in their individual bowls (yes, each bowl is 2 servings, go figure.) Ingredients: Wheat flour, palm oil, potato starch, modified potato starch, salt,contains less than 2% of each of the following: artificial flavor, beef extract*, beef fat*, beef stock*, black pepper*, calcium phosphate, chicken broth*, corn syrup*, dextrose, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, disodium succinate,dehydrated vegetables (carrot, green onion), garlic*, ginger*, gum arabic, hydrolyzed soy protein, lecithin (soy), malic acid, maltodextrin, modified corn starch, mushroom extract*, natural flavors, onion*, potassium carbonate, red chili pepper*, riboflavin (color), rice*, sand lance concentrate*, seaweed extract*, sodium carbonate, sodium phosphates, soybeans*, spices, sugar, tapioca starch, textured soy protein (soy flour, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, yeast extract), tocopherols (antioxidant), yeast extract, yellow corn flour. *powdered contains wheat, soy, and sand lance. Manufactured in a facility that also processes crustacean shellfish and milk.

Here’s the bad news.  Apparently, Ramen isn’t bad for you just because of the sodium. There are a number of articles that noting just how bad Ramen noodles are and how they will kill you. What can you do if you still want Ramen?  Most recommendations to make Ramen healthier is to add vegetables, as I have done.  One site recommends that once your noodles are a little over halfway cooked, (still al-dente) dump the cooking water out and drain the noodles. Put another 2 cups of water on the stove.  (Hey you just discarded a lot of gross starch and a fair amount of fat!).

If you want to read more, here is a good article:

The Street.com – Ramen Noodles May Lead to Chronic Illness: The article uses data from WebMD and, most importantly, findings from a new study by Baylor University. The study was published in The Journal of Nutrition and shows that consumption of instant noodles significantly ups the risk of a scary condition for certain groups of people.

  • Cardiometabolic Syndrome – Cardiometabolic syndrome is a scary condition ; a Baylor study found that eating instant noodles two or more times a week was associated with the syndrome, which raises a person’s likelihood of developing heart disease and other conditions, such as diabetes and stroke.  Ladies, pay attention to this: Women (specifically South Korean), not men, who ate instant noodles at least twice a week showed a 68% higher risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • Noodles: In order to create a long keeping noodle that can be on store shelves or in your kitchen cupboard for 4 to 12 months, it’s deep fried in oil. That’s right, they are fried noodles.
  • BPA Chemicals: Bisphenol A (BPA), is used for packaging the noodles in polystyrene foam containers. Studies have shown that BPA can affect the way hormones send messages throughout our body, specifically the primary female sex hormone, estrogen.
  • Salt: Ramen is high in sodium, packed with 41% of your daily allowance with each package. Most of this sodium is in the flavoring packet. Using less flavoring, which is mostly salt, will reduce the sodium content. Also remember that eating too much sodium can increase a person’s risk of heart failure, osteoporosis, stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • Flavoring Packet: The flavoring powder is made of salt, monosodium glutamate, seasoning, and sugar. The worst ingredient is the MSG, or monosodium glutamate. That’s the “flavor enhancer” used to improve all kinds of tastes. Instant noodle makers use it to make their shrimp flavors taste more like shrimp, and beef flavors more like beef.
  • Fat: One 85 gram package of ramen noodles has 14.5 grams of fat. The unhealthy saturated fats make up 6.5 grams, which is about one third of your daily allowance. The remainder of the fats are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Another issue is that Ramen noodles contain Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), which is a byproduct of the petroleum industry and food additive frequently to preserve cheap processed foods. In processed foods, it’s sprayed on the food or on its packaging to prevent discoloration and changes to flavor and odor. Others products, such as cosmetics, perfumes, varnishes and lacquers, contain TBHQ to maintain stability.

Small amounts of TBHQ may not kill you (although death has occurred) or even make you feel immediately sick, but it can have a long term effect on your health such as weakening of organs and contributing to the onset of cancers and tumors.

 

Using The Tools on This Site

I wanted to revisit all the Fitness tools and Calculators included on this site.  I had mixed results but the bottom line is that my tummy must be trimmed down. Stepping through the main page, we have the:

  • Body Fat Calculator  from http://www.fat2fitradio.com/tools/bf/  The formula provided will not calculate your exact body fat percentage but should give you a consistent measurement you can use as a guideline and determine if you’re losing body fat and/or muscle. Oddly, the calculation says I have body fat percentage is 27.4%.  My scale tells me it is 39%. I think I’m measuring something incorrectly.

    From http://www.fat2fitradio.com/
    Fat 2 Fit #144 – New Measurements Of Success Written on March 3, 2013 – 12:00 am | by Helana Brigman

Looking at this photo, I’m sadly inclined to believe my scale.

  •  How much should you weigh?  Inputting 39% body fat into the Fat 2 Fit Tool, the ideal weight for my age with 35% body fat is 168 pounds.  That seems doable.
  • Calories and Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) –  Fat 2 Fit Tools advocates eating like the thin, healthy person that you want to become. The calorie levels in the chart are not extreme, but  create that all important caloric deficit that is required to get you to your goal weight in a safe manner.  Based on my goal weight of 168 and assuming light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week,  the tool suggests a daily caloric intake of 2005! As I get closer to my goal weight, my weight loss will start to slow down. It is OK to eat a few hundred calories less per day (200-300) to speed up your weight loss at this point.
  • Covert Bailey Body Fat Calculation – The formulas in this body fat calculation are based on the Covert Bailey book The Ultimate Fit or Fat. The formula does not calculate your exact body fat percentage but should give you a consistent measurement you can use as a guideline and determine if you’re losing body fat and/or muscle.  Again, this weirdly gave me a body fat percentage of 27.8%.  This is not right.
  • Waist to Hip Ratio – Carrying extra weight around your middle, indicated by a high waist to hip ratio, increases health risks associated with obesity.  This tool tells me my Waist to Hip ratio is: 0.93.  Anything over 0.85 signifies a high health risk!
  • Waist to Height Ratio – The waist to height ratio is the best predictor of cardiovascular risk and mortality. My Waist to Height Ratio is 58.3%.  According to the tool, a ratio 54 to 58 means “Seriously Overweight” and a ratio over 58 means “Highly Obese“. That’s not good.

Adding a Hula Hoop to My Day

In the interest of trying something new and fun, I have purchased a weighted Hula Hoop.  I spent 10 minutes this morning listening to music and hooping.  It wasn’t bad although I had to learn to keep my elbows out of the way! You supposed to hula hoop in both directions. Mix it up alternating between clockwise and counter-clockwise direction.

Benefits

Hooping is a great ab workout to start with before integrating other exercises into your routine.  Because a hoop workout requires constant push-pull contractions in your core muscles (abs plus obliques, at the sides of your waist) as well as in the glutes and thighs, the added resistance created by a somewhat heavier hoop should sculpt and reshape all the right places.  For what it’s worth there are also many references to unnamed studies stating hooping is an effective way to burn visceral fat  which is deep within the abdominal cavity.  Visceral fat is also linked to metabolic disturbances and shows an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and many other dangerous health conditions.

Here’s some advice I found on Hula Hooping:

The Mayo Clinic reports that you need to spend at the very least 10 minutes at a timWeighted Hula Hoope exercising your abs with the Hula-Hoop in order to see concrete results. An average woman can burn about 165 calories in 30 minutes of hula hooping, and an average man can burn about 200 calories in 30 minutes of hula hooping.

1.    Stabilize your torso and legs, and mobilize your midsection. Only use your abdominal muscles and hips to keep the hoop spinning.

2.    Scoop your belly in and lift your rib cage. Extend from the center of your body out. The better your posture, the easier it will be to hoop.

3.    Hold the hoop parallel to the floor as you start the spin, and give it some good momentum so it doesn’t start out wobbly.

4.    If your hoop starts to fall, lengthen your spine, push forward and back, and move faster. Imagine yourself as the axis of the orbit, not the orbit itself. If you try to move with the hoop (rotating your hips in a circle) the hoop will lose momentum and fall. Move side to side with your waist and hips or back to front with your belly. Feel the centrifugal force, but don’t try to be the circle; let the circle move around you.

5.    Stick with it. The longer you hoop, the more your body gets used to the movements

 

Setting Goals and Moving Forward

I listened to the Fat 2 Fit Radio 5th Annual Goals Show [Pod cast #136].  [The show itself is trying to reboot itself so there haven’t been any new pod casts recently but I have high hopes.]  The host talks about why so many New Year Resolutions fail to last past March. As I struggle to get into better shape and fight the weight I continue to pick up during my travels, I am embracing their advice.

The pod cast noted that success in getting healthy and trim requires:

  • defined reasons for wanting to be healthier and slimmer
  • defined goals
  • a plan for measuring and reaching those goals
  • a reasonable time-frame

Here is a link to the Fat 2 Fit Radio Podcast: Play in new window | Download

Okay, so here are my goals:

  • Lose 1-2 pounds a week for the next 28 weeks.  That should bring me to the end of June.
  • I’m going to eat healthier by cooking dinners with fewer starches and eating fewer unhealthy snacks– eating 1900 – 2100 calories a day and tracking my nutrition and exercise on Sparkpeople.com
  • I will work out more and actually do cardio by completing the Couch to 5K program.

The Fat 2 Fit Radio calculator generated the following chart that shows the number of calories that I should eat on a daily basis to reach my goal weight. Fat 2 Fit Radio advocates eating like the thin, healthy person that you want to become. The calorie levels provided in the chart create the caloric deficit required to get you to your goal weight in a safe manner. Once you reach your goal weight, you are supposed to eat the same number of calories for the rest of your life to maintain that weight.

Based on how much activity you do on an average day, the calories in the right column will be the number of calories that you will be able to eat at your goal weight. If you start eating those calories right now (eating like the thinner you), you will eventually become that thinner person. As you get closer to your goal weight, your weight loss will start to slow down. It is OK to eat a few hundred calories less per day (200-300) to speed up your weight loss at this point.

Activity Level Daily Calories
Sedentary (little or no exercise, desk job) 1664
Lightly Active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/wk) 1907
Moderately Active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/wk) 2150
Very Active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/wk) 2393
Extremely Active (hard daily exercise/sports & physical job or 2X day training, i.e marathon, contest etc.)

Light Kickboxing and Strength Session with John Salgado

Sadly, I weighed in this morning a half pound heavier than yesterday.  Yes, I know I’ve already written that a person should not weigh herself on a daily basis but I can’t help myself.  I’m not sure why it happened but I think it may relate to under-eating again.  The Fat2FitRadio.com pod casts repeated noted that under-eating would result in the body going into starvation mode and holding on to calories.   For the second time this week, I dropped under the calorie limits suggested by the Calories and Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) calculator.  I ate a little over 1600 calories yesterday, so I consumed at least my BMR of 1430 calories.  However, I didn’t eat enough.  🙁  According to the calculator, I should eat between 1907 calories for a Lightly Active woman (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/wk) to 2150 calories for a Moderately Active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/wk).

Today’s workout with John was lighter in deference to my knee and because I am fighting off a flu.  We spent a lot of time doing kickboxing strength exercises and drills.  I was still soaked in sweat but happy.

 I found this video on how to do a Back Leg Roundhouse Kick on the ehow.com site.

Another Excellent Kickboxing Workout

Despite coming down with a bug, I worked out with John Salgado today and did pretty well.  Because we’re still working around my cranky knee, we started out doing some drill on the Bosu Ball: jogging on it, Dome Toe Taps [you can watch the video below but I can say she’s a lot better at it than I am LOL],  side squats [again, very small movements because of my knee], and squat thrusts.

Other exercises for today included wall squats with a stability ball and a 10 lb ball.  A new item for today was assisted dips.  We rounded out the work out with punching and kicking combinations on the bag.

Wall Squat with Stability Ball by http://www.workoutz.com

The good news on weight loss and nutrition is that I am still within my recommended calorie intake for my BMR.  I must confess that I had vanilla ice cream with blueberries last night [yes, I entered it into the SparkPeople.com Nutrition Tracker and I remain in calorie range :-)]  I’m down another half pound but that could be just water weight.

Light Strength Training at Crunch Gym

It’s been raining but I still made it to Crunch to work out with Frank.  We had another light strength workout in deference to my bad knee.  My warm ups comprised running sideways back and forth.  We then did a series of modified inchworms; modified planks, leg extensions [using the wall]; and standing abductions.  As I enter my workouts into the SparkPeople.com fitness tracker, I can see how much less I do at Crunch but I don’t mind as I’m feeling really tired and it’s about as much as I want to do today.  It’s still 100 percent more than I would do without Frank. 🙂

Nutritionally, I am staying within the recommended calorie range for my BMR.  Breakfast included my favorite fruit protein shake.  Dinner included a lovely spinach and feta cheese salad.  My weight continues to creep down.  Hooray! 

 

Kickboxing with John Salgado

Despite the rain, I made it to the gym this afternoon. My knee was especially creaky today so we tried some modified one-leg-squat exercises. I did the easiest variation:  John had me sit on a chair, extend one leg and arms in front and stand up on one leg.  I then sat down on the chair while standing on one leg.  I still had to support the weak knee but it’s a start to try to rebuild leg strength.

Here’s a video link demonstrating the modified one-leg-squat exercises from eHow.com:

 
 

Other exercises with the resistance bands for today included:

You can find other Resistance Band exercise suggestions at:

We rounded out today with punching and kicking combos on the bag.

I’ve tried to continue eating healthily- breakfast included a fruit protein shake so I had a kick start with protein and fiber;  other meals included vegetables.