With the health craze sweeping the world, it’s pretty much a requirement to be on top of your health at all times. We’re expected to not only eat healthy, but be able to talk about grams of protein, pros and cons of going vegan and detail our fitness routines to anyone who might happen to ask. As with anything, it can be difficult to answer those questions with an ‘I don’t know.’ Especially when it’s something that you feel you should have known already.
Well, don’t fret. We’re here with answers to those questions you either forgot the answer to or are just too embarrassed to ask about at this point. There’s no shame, it happens to the best of us.
How much physical activity do I need?
According to the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, an adult between the ages of 18 and 64 should get two and a half hours of ‘moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.’ That’s half an hour five days a week.
The guide also suggests muscle and bone strengthening activities at least twice a week for overall health. Remember, your kids need way more than that and should be getting more than an hour of physical activity a day.
Is the scale the best indicator of getting healthy?
No way. The scale is just a number, plus it’s not usually an acurate indicator of fat-loss since muscle actually weighs more than fat. You can lose pounds of fat, but weigh the same amount because you gained muscle at the same time. Don’t let that little number under your feet discourage you.
A better indicator of fat-loss and overall health is how you’re feeling, how you look, how your clothes fit and measurements. If you want numbers to track your weight loss and mark milestones, take measurements of your belly, hips, chest, thighs and upper arms to compare. In most cases they’ll indicate your progress better than the scale.
How much water do I really need to be drinking?
First, remember that drinking a glass of water isn’t the only way to hydrate. There is also water in vegetables, fruits and other foods. That being said, the hydration you get in solid form definitely needs to be supplemented with liquid too. The Dietitians of Canada recommends a fluid intake of three litres (12 cups) for men over 19 years, and 2.2 litres (9 cups) for women. That intake includes all liquids. Water is the best, but milk, juice, broth, soups, coffee and tea count too.
The guidelines also explicitly say, ‘it is a myth that you need 8 cups [of water] a day to stay healthy.’ Phew, we’re pretty sure no one drinks that much anyway.
What kind of milk is the best for you?
Speaking of drinking, what about cow juice? Or almond/soy/rice juice? What kind is actually the best for you? Well, it all depends on what you want out of your milk.
Cows’ milk is the highest in both calcium and protein. Full-fat cow’s milk is high in saturated fat though, so watch out for that. Also, some people have a moral dilemma with drinking cow milk because it takes a toll on the environment.
Almond milk has less protein and calcium (unless it’s calcium-fortified) but it’s also low in fat and high in vitamin E. You should be wary of added sugar though because a lot of brands will sweeten their milk.
Soy milk is rich in calcium and protein and contains no saturated fat or lactose. The jury is still out on the effects soy milk can have on female hormones though. It’s typically not recommended for children or teens.
Rice milk is low in calcium and protein, is lactose-free with no cholesterol or saturated fat. On the downside, it’s low in vitamin A and has a high glycemic index.
Body and Soul has some great advice for picking a milk.
Should I be having fat at all?
There are good fats and there are bad fats. Technically, you shouldn’t be having bad fats (trans fat) ever. Saturated and unsaturated fats are part of a healthy diet and should be consumed daily. About 30 percent of your total calories for the day should come from healthy fats. Of that 30 percent, one third should be saturated and the rest should be unsaturated. Your best sources of healthy fats are avocados, cold water fish, coconut oil and olive oil.
Should I be having carbs at all?
Carbs are also part of a healthy diet. They contain less than half the calories of fat so they’re actually better for you than an overly fatty alternative. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the real key to carbs is eating healthy ones. Whole grains, pasta, brown rice and sweet potatoes are generally better for you than more processed alternatives like white bread and rice. You want the stuff with the fiber and nutrients still in it.
Which fruit contains the most sugar?
It’s important to remember that fruits are part of a healthy diet and their sugars are natural. Grapes are actually the fruit that has the most sugar with one serving containing 13.8 grams. Other fruits high in sugar are pomegranates, cherries and bananas.
Will sugar kill me?
We sure hear that a lot, don’t we? The truth is, most things in moderation won’t kill you. That being said, ‘in moderation’ is the key there. So is how you’re getting your sugar.
The World Health Organization says that no more than ten percent of your total calories should come from sugar a day. That’s about 25 grams or six teaspoons a day for your average adult.
It’s also important to keep a check where you’re getting your sugar. Refined white sugar is one of the worst for you while coconut sugar and honey are better. One of your best options for sweetening things is actually pure maple syrup (oh Canada!) because it contains less overall sugar and less fructose. Be very careful with substitute sweeteners like aspartame and Splenda. They are unnatural so our bodies don’t know how to process them and a number of studies have linked them to weight gain and other health problems. It’s best to avoid those altogether.
Hopefully that answers those questions you weren’t sure about. Now go forth and confidently converse about health and nutrition.