Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Starbucks Survival Guide- Your Drink of Choice's Dirty Little Calorie Counts

If you’re like most people, your day doesn’t actually start until you’ve had your coffee, or at least you’re not ready to face the world yet. Coffee has become more than a beverage in our fine Nation, it’s almost the lifeline that keeps us going…I worry should Starbucks come up with a way to IV it straight into us. 

Ahhh, Starbucks, it only took me two sentences to get to it. Starbucks and coffee, yes there are competing chains out there and people are almost scarily loyal to them, but let’s face it Starbucks is heckbent on taking over the World. They have that corner in the grocery store, another one in the bookstore, AND of course the regular old chain all in the same shopping center.

Now coffee, if you sip it straight black has between 0 and 5 calories per cup. Not bad you say, let’s guzzle it down like water. But hold up, who drinks it straight black? I’m sure if you stepped to the counter and asked for that you’d be greeted with one fine about face by the barista. Sure you could add a couple of Splendas and only be raising the caloric stats by 5 per pack, but for the most part a typical Starbucks order takes a minute to rattle off. 

You might be shocked though to learn that if you order a Venti Caffé Vanilla Frap Blended Coffee as is you could be chugging down 580 calories! That’s before you even actually eat anything for the day! Mindless sipping can lead to major weight gain and the thing about drink calories is that they don’t register the same way as actual food ones. They count in the sense that the body will store them as fat if they aren’t burned off, but they don’t make you feel full like food would. That means you’ll be just as hungry come lunchtime.
Here’s a quick Starbucks Survival Guide to fuel your day but not your waistline:

*Don’t Overload the Extra’s: Read that as the heavy whip, the creamers, full fat milk, and the like. Of course you don’t have to have your coffee bland, but be selective and also go for the lower-fat versions.

*Sprinkle Me This, Straw Me That: Yes, chocolate rocks, not going to lie, but those cutie sprinkles and swirls on top don’t get a free pass on the calorie counts. Darn, same goes for caramel sauce and cookie straws.

*Seasonal Beverages: These come and go and with seasonal drinks Starbucks isn’t necessarily forced to post up the nutrition stats (they’re even cagey with full disclosure on the regular menu), but the same rules apply with everything else. Look at what is in it and use your calorie know-how. Case in point, a Venti Mocha Coconut Frap has 550 cals and 18 grams of fat. Even a Tall Frap version still with the whip and nonfat milk will set you back 9 grams of fat and 300 cals.

*Tea It Baby: Tea is also 5 calories or below per cup if you don’t add anything to it, and certain ones will still offer you the caffeine kick. Just something to think about, but also remember to keep in mind the calories of anything you add to it, not all tea drinks are created equal.

*Size Matters: This should be a no-brainer, but keep in mind that a single serving of any liquid is a cup, 8 ounces. Starbucks size-wise that means a Grande is actually two cups, with 16 ounces, so look at the ounces and do the math when you order.

Quickie Skyhigh Stats:

  • White Chocolate Mocha (Venti/whole milk/whipped cream)– 620 cals 27 grams of fat
  •  Double Choc Chip Frap (Grande/whipped cream)—640 cals 22 grams of fat
  • Caffe Mocha (Venti/whole milk/whipped cream)--450 cals 22 grams of fat
  • Cinnamon Dolce Latte (Grande/whole milk/whipped cream)—370 cals and 17 grams of fat
  • Tazo Green Tea Frap Blended Crème (Grande/whipped cream)—490 cals 14 grams of fat – proof teas can be dangerous too

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Day The World Was Taken Over by 100 Calorie Snacks - Are They Worth it?

So are all those 100 calorie snacks inundating the supermarkets worth it? Well, yes and no. Yes because it is a nice way to enjoy some of your favorite foods in a small, portioned control version…and let’s face it staying on track with a tiny pouch of Milanos is way easier than cracking open the full sized version!

These small servings can also act as a startling wake-up call: “THIS is what a single serving looks like, are you joking me?!” The bad news is that many of these snacks are 1) super expensive and 2) are able to be devoured in about two bites.

The idea behind the 100 calorie craze is a sound theory, but typically the varieties are of chips, cookies, sweets, and other high calorie treats shrunk down to Munchin size. So that means that they will give you a nice taste of the foods but they probably won’t fill you up all that much. Cut to about three or four empty snack pouches littering your desk.

The other drawback is that often times faux foods, or ones that are the fat-free or sugar-free replacements, can cause you to eat more of them, both mentally and biologically. Mentally you can sometimes justify eating more because they are ‘fat-free’ but that doesn’t mean they are calorie-free or that because they are a few grams of fat less you can wolf them down by the truckload. Chemically these foods are also broken down differently by the body and can cause some whacky brain signals to be sent to your from your stomach; you might not be registering fullness or satiety the same.

Finally, prices…let’s be realistic and admit that most of us are on a budget. Portion control is really what these 100 calorie things come down to and if you want to do the same (actually this is a great technique to keep you on the right track regardless) just bust out some plastic baggies and get to measuring. Check the nutritional stats of whatever food it is you want to eat and measure out a calorie specific amount. You just made what Nabisco or Doritos wanted to sell you in a slicked out version for the cost of a Ziplock. :)

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Tips for Fitting in Those Workouts During Vacation

Not everyone ditches the gym when it’s vacation time, myself included. Though, it can be tricky sometimes making sure that your own workout agenda doesn’t get in the way of plans or leave the other members of your party grumbling. In following up to our last post on fitness during vacations, here are ways to make sure your exercise routine gets done without cramping anyone’s style.

*Up already? Yes, sleeping in is one great luxury many people look forward to when they have a break from the usual everyday commitments, but if you’re dedicated to your workout one of the best times to get your sweat session in is first thing in the morning. Not only will this ensure that you actually DO get it done (that run doesn’t seem so appealing after a full day of tacos and mimosas does it?) but it also means your fitness routine doesn’t affect anyone else…chances are they’re still sleeping.

*Band together. You know that saying about strength in numbers, well the same applies here. If you’re on vacation with another fitness fanatic, that makes staying dedicated to your sweat session will be easier. Not only do you not have to worry about explaining to people who ‘don’t get it’ and question why you’d want to workout, but having another like minded person around also helps each of you stay committed if exercise motivation ever starts to wane.

*Scope it out beforehand. Do a little research before you take off, find out if the hotel you’re staying at has a fitness facility on site. If not, then do a little Google search and look for the nearest gym for you to use. If you’re planning on running outside, look at the surrounding areas and find a good, safe route for you to hit up or maybe even some trails.

*Be practical. Be realistic with yourself and what your schedule allows. If you’ve got less time than allows for your ‘usual’ routine that’s okay and squeeze in as much as you can. Combine cardio and strength elements into your workout and make the most out of every minute…that means intervals and intensity are you friend.

*Bring on the buffets. Let’s be honest, lots of vacations include awesome food and who wants to miss out on that?! What better way to deter too much bulge from calorie onslaught than by working out? This tip is more like an incentive to get up when that alarm goes off and hit the gym. :)

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Means Vacations But Does it Mean Ditching the Workout?

So hopefully you are able to get away and do something fun this summer, but just because you’re out on vacation, doesn’t mean you have to chuck excise out the window. Now, some people do allow themselves to take a break from regimented workouts during their vacations and taking a break every so often is not going to kill you. Actually taking rest periods are actually healthy and give your body a chance to fully recover.

Though, even during those rest days or weeks you can still make them active rest days. What’s that? Well it just means that you’re not a complete slug and the only time you move is to go for round two or three at the buffet line. Hehe. Joking aside, integrating activity into your vacations isn't only to keep you moving but they also make things much more fun…who wants to stay couped up in a hotel room watching TV anyways?

* Take a tour of the area. If you’re visiting somewhere new, then get out and walk around, sometimes it’s fun to just explore and try and get lost. You can find some of the best local shops, restaurants, and sights that way. You can always take a map with you or do a little Google research before you set out too.

* Pedal, paddle, climb. Rent some bikes, climb a mountain, take to the surf…these are all fun vacation type actives and all of them are workouts as well. Working out is fun after all, but even if you’re not pedaling around like a beast on that bike you’re still moving about and putting that body and those muscles to good use.

* Learn something new. This ties into the last one, but it’s always a fun challenge to try something new. Push yourself, test your limits…sure you may not wind up being very good at surfing, kayaking, or rock climbing but that’s okay. In fact doing something you aren’t good at, or maybe have never tried, is a wonderful way to find a new passion and ALSO will work muscles you probably haven’t worked that way before.

* Bond, Baby. No reference to James on that one, but doing something active with whoever else you’re on vacation with gives you the perfect chance to connect. Whether it be with the family or as a couple you’ll certainly create lasting memories. Insert cheesy Hallmark quote and smile here. :)

BUT the thought of still exercising on your vacations is not to be dismissed and is completely possible. Check back for part II of our series for staying fit tips while on vaca!

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