RD Q&A (vol. 40)

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This time last week, I was there ^^. Sigh. Anyway, Q&A…here we go!

Toni: I found you while searching for info on the effect of the fructose smoothies contain. I’ve been making a large one that serves as breakfast/lunch for about a month. I originally used about a half cup of fresh baby spinach leaves or frozen chopped spinach, about 20 whole roasted almonds, a baby red pepper or some baby carrots, half a banana, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup pineapple, 1/4 cup mango, a teaspoon of ground flaxseed, a teaspoon of Ceylon cinnamon and about a cup and a half of coconut milk. Yummy, but I ran the ingredients through a nutrition calculator and it got excellent marks for everything except its “extremely high” sugar content. I am a reformed jink-food junkie who was had a borderline-high sugar level because of all the processed carbs I ate. I know that drinking lots of fruit juice spikes your blood sugar, but thought that because I was using the whole fruit and its fiber, I didn’t need to worry. Now I’m not so sure. I’ve been adding half a cup of thick rolled oats, hoping they would help slow the absorption of the sugars. Am I right? And does blending fruit break down the fiber so much that the sugar can go straight to the bloodstream, like with juice?  Sorry this is so long. Thanks for any advice.

Prevention RD: Toni, glad you found my site and an interesting question! First things first, I think this sounds like a great breakfast -or- lunch, but not sufficient as a replacement for both (assuming an “average-ish” caloric intake for adults). Just using a quick mental calculation, the smoothie comes in around 380 calories without the coconut milk. Is the coconut milk the canned, rich variety, or the carton/half gallon version? The carton/half gallon versions will range from 40-100+ calories/cup (with the canned version being much higher), but regardless, your smoothie is probably right around 500 calories and would be about 650 with the oats — perhaps a little high for breakfast, perhaps not, but regardless, a light breakfast/lunch. As for your question, there is no ADDED sugar in the smoothie (check out this Q&A for a really in-depth answer on sugar, how much is too much, etc.). All carbohydrates raise blood sugar and while the glycemic index of fructose is higher than say, starch, the net effect is the same – blood sugar goes up and the amount (grams) of carbohydrate will determine how high the sugar goes up. The good news is that there is some healthy fat and protein in the smoothie – almonds, flax, coconut milk, so there’s actually a pretty good balance (especially for a smoothie – not always easy to accomplish!). You’re on the right path with fiber in thinking that adding oats could slow the influx of sugar into the bloodstream, but there’s quite a bit of fiber from the fruit, vegetables, nuts, and flax — really, all of the ingredients are adding to the fiber content (woo!). Perhaps reduce the oats to 1/4 cup (1/2 cup is about 30 grams of carb – the same as about 1 1/2 servings of fruit), but honestly, it sounds like a healthy start to the day…just add something for lunch 😉 Thanks for your question, hope that helps!

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Sara: Hi Nicole!  I have a question about body fat percentage. About a year ago I got a DEXA scan (perks of being a graduate student – free DEXA scans when the machine needs calibrating!) and my body fat percentage was 25%.  I know the “fitness” level is between 21-24%, while the “acceptable” range is 25% – 31% (according to the American Council on Exercise).  How vital is it that we try to get into that fitness range?  I exercise 5x/week, mostly weights, but I’m trying to incorporate more cardio for my bones.  As a nutrition student, I feel like my diet is under control as well.  I feel like the changes I would need to make to my exercise routine and diet to get into that fitness range would be borderline restrictive – is it worth it?  Also, do you know if different women require different body fat percentages outside of that fitness range (i.e., are some women more sensitive to reduction in body fat in regards to menstruation)?  Love your blog!

Prevention RD: My personal opinion? Not worth it. I posted this quote on Facebook a few days ago and it’s perfect in this instance: “Your best weight is whatever weight you reach while you’re living the healthiest life you can honestly enjoy.” I mean, how awesome (and TRUE!) is that quote? We could all improve SOMETHING, but does that mean it will make us happier or healthier? Not necessarily. You hit the nail on the head when you said it would be “borderline restrictive”. I think what some people fail to realize is that fat actually plays a vital role in health, especially for women – fat releases hormones that are essential to best health (menstruation, bone integrity, etc.). And yes, people vary in what’s best for them with regard to body fat percentage — some people are more sensitive to changes in body fat than others. While I am not a sports nutrition expert, diet and exercise get complex when you’re trying to manipulate already “healthy” individuals. You have to monitor closely the amount of carbohydrate and protein coming in – the carbohydrate to fuel and the protein to repair and build (that’s a very simplified example), but when there’s an imbalance there, the body can begin using lean muscle to fuel workouts and it becomes a vicious cycle of trying to properly fuel for improved body composition to achieve those results. A body fat of 25% is perfect – if you’re happy and healthy, don’t change. Every body is different and everybody is different, but if I had to cast a vote…the juice isn’t worth the squeeze 🙂

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Debbie: I see many products on the grocery store shelves that say “a good source of fiber” and when I look at the nutritional list the fiber content is 2 or 3.  That seems so low.  My question is:  What is the number that would actually mean “a good source of fiber”?

Prevention RD: Hi Debbie! Oh, you’ve hit on one of my favorite topics! You’re right, 2-3 grams of fiber isn’t really a good source of fiber (at least it’s something? Haha.). If I were to check out http://casinoin.us, say, a bread or cereal label, I’d want to see more than 2-3 grams of fiber per serving (to the tune of 4-5 or more, let’s say). My favorite is when a product mentions lowering cholesterol, and then you find out that a serving of the product is 2 grams of fiber. What?! Liars 😉 A “good” source of fiber according to labeling laws is 5 grams of fiber (or more) per serving. Thanks so much for your question 🙂

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That’s all for today! Thanks for the questions! These Q&A posts require your inquisitive minds! Please, ask questions! You may ask your question as a comment below, or email me at nicole at preventionrd dot com. 😀

Be well,

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2 Comments

  1. Rachael
    April 9, 2014 / 8:17 am

    Great answers, Mrs. Prevention! I always love reading your blog. I feel proud to be a registered dietitian when I see blogs and articles like yours, promoting sound science and delicious, healthy foods, as well as realistic lifestyle expectations and moderation! Thank you for all that you do!

    -Rachael from Maine

    • Nicole, RD
      Author
      April 9, 2014 / 9:19 am

      Aww, thanks Rachael! Really appreciate it! RD love! 🙂

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