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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Cycling at NIFS: The Low-Impact, Calorie-burning Group Fitness Workout

Cycle-2Cycling is becoming one of the most popular trends in group fitness. Not only is it a great class to take for the cardio benefits and calorie burn, cycling is a great resistance-based workout that can also increase strength. Many cycling classes are tracked in two ways, by RPM or BPM. RPM stands for “repetitions per minute,” and BPM stands for “beats per Minute.” Each form is usually cued by an instructor to ride to a particular beat. Both are great options; which one to choose just depends on personal preference. If you like music, you might enjoy a beat-driven class more. If you enjoy competition, you might enjoy an RPM-style class more.

Not only can a cycling class burn up to 600 or 700 calories a session, cycling classes are also fun to participate in due to the motivation to push and work hard from the instructor and the fun music played in class. With each person being on their own bike, participants control their own resistance with guided cues from the instructor on approximately how much resistance to add. This makes the class a great option for all levels, since each individual is in control of their own resistance. Resistance is recommended based on the kind of track an instructor is teaching. For example, if the instructor is cuing sprints, they might also cue for lighter resistance so you can move as quickly as possible. If you are simulating a hill, you might be cued to add a lot of resistance to make you have to use more strength and power to “get up the hill.”

Benefits of Group Fitness Cycling Classes

Among the benefits of this group fitness class are the following:

  1. Low-impact cardio option
  2. Stress release
  3. Cardiovascular
  4. Muscular endurance

What to Know Before Your First Class

If you have not been to a cycling class before, have no fear! If you are on your way to a class, try to get there 10–15 minutes early. This gives you time to meet your instructor and learn how to set up your bike appropriately for your height. Usually a studio will have shoe rentals or bike cages to be worn with normal shoes. If you would like to purchase cycling shoes, you can find many different options online.

Cycling at NIFS

Cycling is offered daily at NIFS at a variety of times. Check out the Group Fitness Schedule to find a class that works with your schedule!

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This blog was written by Brittany Ignas, BS in Kinesiology, 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, Stott Pilates Certified, and Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS cardio group fitness cycling calories endurance indoor cycling low-impact strength workout

Step Class: Step Up to a New Level of Fitness!

Step-new.jpgWhether you are 18 or 80, man or woman, looking to lose weight or simply maintain, step class just might be the perfect addition to your fitness program. Have you ever considered taking a step class? Perhaps you have found yourself thinking, "I'm not coordinated enough," or “that's too intense for me (or not intense enough"). Well, give me two minutes to change your mind.

Does It Burn Calories?

The bottom line is, stepping up and down off of a raised platform burns calories. In fact, it burns a lot of calories. According to Self magazine, stepping up and down off of a raised platform burns more calories than doing jumping jacks, split lunges, power squats, or speed skating for the same length of time. A great exercise for weight loss? YES! Great way to maintain weight? YOU BET!

Am I Coordinated Enough?

Maybe you’re thinking that you lack the required coordination. But the reality of it is, if you can march in place, you can do step. The basic step is just that: basic. Up, up, down, down. Of course that move would get boring pretty quickly, so we add music, rhythm, and variations on that basic move. While it helps to have a little rhythm (can you clap your hands to the beat of a song?), anyone can step. It might take a few classes to really get the hang of it, but it is quite doable, and FUN! Don't be intimidated!

There is a first time for everything. At some point, every single person in the class, including the instructor, attended their very first step class. I’m not gonna lie, you probably won't pick up every single thing in the first class you take, but let's face it: what would be the fun of mastering it in the first hour? Half the fun is seeing yourself improve, seeing your cardiovascular fitness level improve, and becoming more efficient overall (more work with less effort). Step will get you there!

STEP_COM-2018.jpg

Is It Too Intense?

You might be thinking that step would be too hard or too intense for you. While step is designed to be a challenging cardio workout, the intensity level can be adjusted in a number of ways to meet the needs of each participant.

  • The height of the platform is not uniform; with use of individual risers at each end, the platform can be set as low as just a few inches off the floor (or as high as 8–12 inches).
  • Another easy adjustment, which your instructor will show you, is to limit your range of movement with each step. As you become more comfortable with the format, you will be able to add intensity by increasing range of motion with the steps, and by adding arm movements to further increase your heart rate. Because of this, the challenge never ends. There is no plateau.

Is It Not Intense Enough?

On the flip side, maybe you are thinking step is not intense enough. Perhaps you’re thinking that only girls take step, or that you are too fit to benefit from it. Regardless of your fitness level, step can be a very challenging cardiovascular workout. It is a well-known fact that the US military utilizes step aerobics to improve our troops' agility, coordination, and endurance. If it's tough enough for our soldiers, then it's tough enough for me! In addition to step, I also teach Insanity, total-body conditioning, and kickboxing classes. Step meets or exceeds these other formats in intensity level and calories burned per hour.

Step is the perfect group fitness format because it accommodates all fitness levels. (And if you haven't tried group fitness, well that's a whole other conversation.) But in short, try it! The camaraderie and accountability among the participants, the music, and the FUN factor will have you hooked!

So, are you ready to take your fitness regimen to the next STEP? See you in class soon, soon, soon!

Yours in fitness,
Rachel

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This blog was written by Rachel Pfeiffer, ACE and AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor, and proud NIFS Step instructor since 1999. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio weight loss group fitness calories aerobic step class

New Year, New Weight: Burning Calories for Weight Loss

GettyImages-6291562403,500. What does that mean? If you can be in deficit 3,500 calories or burn 3,500 calories, you are rewarded with a one-pound fat loss. As the New Year begins, many individuals will be striving to get rid of or burn many of those 3,500 calories to get started on weight loss.

Here are ways to burn calories that bring it back to the basics: eat less, move more, and you will lose weight.

Think Your Drink

Studies have shown that when liquid is consumed with a meal, whether or not it is calorie-free, the person’s level of satiation does not change. This means that all of those calories are being drunk but no food is given up to balance them out. The average 12-ounce soda has 150 calories, and the Big Gulps can have more than 400 calories. If you order a soda at a restaurant, it’s hard telling how many calories you will consume due to how often the waiter fills your glass.

Specialty coffee drinks can be loaded with calories, too. Ask for nonfat milk in place of the standard 2% milk and save 40 calories. Say “no whip” and save 70 calories. And finally, getting the smallest size can save numerous calories depending on the beverage. Load up on plenty of liquids that are low in calories such as decaffeinated coffee and tea, flavored water, and low-calorie juices. Each of these simple swaps can save multiple calories on the way to 3,500.

Portion Distortion

The portion sizes that are served today are considerably larger than they were 20 years ago. Therefore, more calories are being consumed in serving sizes that seem “normal.” In order to cut more calories, attempt to stick to a single serving or the smallest offerings of items. For example, you can save 140 calories by ordering the cheeseburger instead of the double cheeseburger, and save 210 calories from the Quarter Pounder with cheese. Look at labels and use the serving size on the nutrition facts panel as a guide. Aim to stick to the amount recommended.

Filling Fiber

When weight loss is the goal, it is easier to stay in control of calories when you feel satiated. Foods that offer fiber help the body stay full; therefore, the need to eat more is lessened. Reach for whole-wheat bread, pasta, and brown rice versus the non-fiber-filled counterparts, and the fiber will help keep your stomach from growling for a longer period of time.

The same is true when you eat a piece of fresh fruit or veggies, which are higher in fiber, instead of chips or pretzels that have no fiber. The more fiber you eat, the fuller you will feel and the fewer calories you will consume.

Move More

Whatever exercise that is currently part of your routine, increase it:

  • Park farther away at stores.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Work out for 25 minutes instead of 20
  • Go for a walk after lunch or dinner.
  • Play your child’s Wii games.
  • Take hourly stretch breaks.
  • Wear a pedometer.
  • Add strength training to your normal cardio routine
  • Sign up for a race and start to train for it.

Whatever you choose, make sure it is something enjoyable so you will continue for the long term. All of these simple changes equal more calories burned.

Track Your Choices

Start writing down your food and beverage choices daily. If what you choose to eat is going to be recorded, it might make you think twice about the extra helping of dessert. Seeing what you eat can be very helpful to guide serving sizes and the types of food you choose—and helps with accountability.

A helpful online food journal database is MyFitnessPal. This allows you to pick from a large database of food choices and see where your diet is lacking or in excess. In addition, physical activity can be tracked, too. But be honest; on average, users underreport around 10% of their food intake.

***

This year make an effort to change small things: replace the usual soda with water, measure the servings of cereal that go into your bowl, eat the orange vs. drinking the juice, walk the dog for an extra 10 minutes, or start recording your food intake. Every small change is one step closer to that magic number of 3,500.

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: nutrition weight loss calories accountability water fiber new year movement

Thanksgiving Success Strategy: Eat Sensibly and Keep Moving

GettyImages-1036967134Not long from now, families all over America will be sitting down to a meal that looks back to that first Thanksgiving, in which the Pilgrims celebrated the harvest after a harsh winter. The year was 1621, and Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving, which the colonists celebrated as a traditional English harvest feast.

George Washington declared Thanksgiving a holiday in 1789, and in 1941 Congress passed a resolution which decreed that the holiday should fall on the fourth Thursday of November.

Feasting together is as old as the human race. It is a way of celebrating and enjoying time with family and friends. But if we are not careful, we can overdo the festivities and end up setting ourselves back over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Just How Big Is Your Meal?

It’s hard to believe, but the average Thanksgiving meal contains 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat. And most of us don’t limit ourselves to one indulgent meal. It’s typical to snack and celebrate all day long.

The trouble comes when we have to deal with those extra calories that we have packed into our bodies. “A 160-lb. person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours, or walk 30 miles to burn off a 3,000-calorie Thanksgiving Day meal,” said Dr. Cedric Bryant, ACE chief exercise physiologist, in this article. Many people start by snacking throughout the day, and that combined with the meal can lead to a total caloric intake of 4,500.”

Nutrition and Fitness Tips for Turkey Day

The good news is that you don’t have to forgo your favorite holiday foods. There is room for a little indulgence at a holiday feast! The secret is to have a plan as we head into the holiday season. By staying on top of both your calorie intake and your physical activity, you can enjoy your favorite foods in moderation and emerge on the other side just as fit as you are now.

  • Plan your meals. If you know that you are going to be having some heavy, celebratory meals in the upcoming days, limit your intake at other meals to help keep your diet balanced out. Don’t skip meals, but make them lighter and be sure to include plenty of healthy, lower-calorie foods. For instance, if you are going to have a big lunch, eat a smaller breakfast and dinner.
  • Look at the big picture. Keep up with how you eat during the several days surrounding Thanksgiving. It’s not a good idea to indulge at every opportunity that presents itself. If you splurge heavily one day, take it easy the next.
  • Keep moving. The last thing you need this time of year is a slowed-down metabolism. Staying active is a great way to give your body a fighting chance to negotiate the extra calories you will be consuming. To get the biggest bang for your exercise buck, do regular strength training moves. Even after your strength training session has ended, your metabolism and calorie burn remains high.

Strength Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Here are some simple strengthening exercises you can do no matter where you are—whether in your office at work or at the in-laws’ house.

  1. Push-ups. If you aren’t used to doing push-ups, start with your hands on a raised surface such as a desk. As you gain strength, you can gradually move to doing them fully on the floor.
  2. Lunges. For extra credit, hold dumbbells or other heavy objects in your hands while lunging.
  3. Squats. To do a proper squat, start with your feet shoulder width apart. Begin to lower your body as if you were going to sit in a chair. Try to reach a level where your quads are parallel, and then stand back up.
  4. Step-ups. Find the nearest step, and with alternating legs step onto the step with one leg and then step back down. Again, holding heavy objects in each hand will increase the effect.

There is no need to pack on the pounds this Thanksgiving. Figure out your strategy now, and then when the festivities start, just work the plan!

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This blog was written by Ashley Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: healthy eating calories holidays exercises Thanksgiving strength workout

BODYJAM: The Ultimate Dance Cardio Workout

edit-919138BODYJAM is the ultimate combination of music and dance. It was created by Les Mills, a group fitness phenomenon that creates high-intensity aerobic classes found in more than 80 countries. This cardio dance workout is a great way to get in shape and torch calories. The workout is about 55 minutes long at a moderate intensity level that burns 530 calories a session on average.

Effectiveness of Dance Cardio as a Workout

Dance cardio workouts have been proven make people happier, healthier, and more fit. Dancing can improve brain function, increase life outlook, protect organs, and aid in growing your social skills and friend circle, even if you don’t have rhythm. Society is gravitating toward “movement is medicine” for overall health benefits, so dancing definitely fits into this category. We are learning that when the body is in motion, our total well-being benefits, because the body is able to function and stay healthier longer.

Target Muscles in Dance Cardio

Dance cardio is great for toning the total body! Legs, glutes, hips, and the waistline are the big target muscles you might notice toning, strengthening, and lengthening from dance cardio. This comes from moving in so many different planes of motion. If you move all of your limbs, your arms and upper body will also see results from this form of exercise.

Benefits of Dance Cardio

The numerous benefits of dance cardio workouts include the following:

  • Coordination: The ability to move two or more muscle groups at the same time.
  • Self-expression: The ability to show your personal uniqueness.
  • Fat burning: Burns a great amount of calories!
  • Muscle toning: Physical exercises that are used with the aim of developing a physique.
  • Increasing stamina/endurance: Helps the heart, lungs, and blood vessels deliver oxygen to the body.
  • FUN!

 

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This blog was written by Brittany Ignas, BS in Kinesiology, 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, Stott Pilates Certified, and Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio calories Les Mills high intensity BodyJam

Finding Your Lifetime Activity: Staying Active Should Be Fun

GettyImages-184973240We exercise many ways every day, many times unknowingly. Sometimes this is because we actually enjoy doing it and it doesn’t seem like work to us. As the old saying goes, “time flies when you’re having fun.” One requirement for a lifetime activity, though, is that it most often needs to be something you can do from the time you stop wearing diapers until the time you start wearing diapers again. The ideas I like to explore can include fitness, but also non-exercise–based activities.

Is Tackle Football a Lifetime Sport?

Rarely, if ever, do you hear about a 60-plus person excelling at tackle football, yet it is still one of the most celebrated and promoted sports in the world. That sport in particular has plenty of fitness-related benefits, ranging from strength training to teamwork; but on the flip side, not many people play tackle football outside of peewee football after they graduate from high school.

You might argue that there are people who play in college and professionally, or that there are adult flag football leagues. But the reality is that the percentage of participation is relatively low. This poses an issue, so you need to strive for activities that provide exercise for the long haul.

Some Appropriate Sports and Activities

Many sports can be considered lifetime activities. These include tennis (or any variation: badminton, table tennis, racquetball, and so on), golf, and swimming. 5K races and mini-marathons are also in this category and are well attended by all age groups, with many older competitors able to complete and compete among others in their age group.

The question may arise, “What if I don’t care for sports? What am I going to do?” You might already have it covered if you participate in any of these activities:

  • Gardening (bending, squatting, etc.)
  • Walking pets (both can get benefits)
  • Playing with the kids or grandkids (bike riding or sharing a nice afternoon playing toss)

There are many ways to track the estimated calories burned for these types of exercises through the www.myfitnesspal.com website. Take one weekend and track every step you take with a pedometer and note all activity. You might surprise yourself with how much you actually do.

Help Kids Get More Active

Circling back to the original idea of pushing lifetime activities, it only makes sense to start early with children. Educate youth about health and fitness and why it’s important to give attention to lifetime activities and planning for a healthy and full life of fitness.

There Is No Age Limit on Healthy Living

Beyond the kids, you’re never too old to aspire to being healthier. Meeting with a fitness coach can provide a spark: they can help you assess where you are starting, what your strengths are, and possible avenues for participation you might never have known existed.

Finally, if you are looking outside of fitness and sports, don’t search too hard because you might have already found something that you can benefit from without realizing it. As personal trainer, author, and entrepreneur Martin Rooney says, “Doing something is better than doing nothing.” You can take it one day at a time and tell yourself that doing something is better than nothing at all. If you believe you can become a better you every day, one day you will.

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the other NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: staying active Thomas' Corner calories sports technology lifetime activities lifetime sports

Fair Food Finds: Healthy Eating While Having Fun at the Fair

GettyImages-886128934It only comes around once a year, so why not just indulge, right? Well, some of your favorite fair foods might only be consumed once per year, but if you aren’t increasing your exercise, too, the extra weight gained can stick around for longer.

Top 6 State Fair Foods—and How to Burn Them Off

Here are some of the more popular fair food items and how far you will need to walk to burn off the calories.

  1. Elephant ear: Average is 310 calories and 15 grams of fat—3 miles
  2. Funnel cake (6”): 276 calories and 14 grams of fat—3 miles
  3. Lemon shakeup: 254 calories: 2½ miles
  4. Deep-fried everything: Fried Snickers, 444 calories and 29 grams of fat; fried Twinkie, 420 calories and 34 grams of fat—either would take 4.5 miles. One Oreo, 98 calories—1 mile
  5. Corn on the cob: 250 calories and 12 grams of fat—2½ miles
  6. Corn dog: 200 calories and 10 grams of fat—2 miles

Fair Food Fixes: Better Nutrition Choices

There are some easy ways to save some of these calories or burn them off. Try these tips:

  • Think your drink—grab bottled water, sugar-free lemon shakeups, unsweetened tea, or diet sodas to drink instead of empty calories from other beverages.
  • Don’t arrive starving, which can lead to you wanting to purchase everything in sight. Have a balanced snack before you head to the fair.
  • Share with friends and family so you can try smaller portions of more foods.
  • Sit down and eat versus walking and grazing. This can help you feel fuller faster and more satisfied.
  • Wear comfy shoes to maximize your walking! Park farther away and avoid taking the shuttles or train services.
  • Check out all booths and choose your absolute favorite…you’ll eat less and walk more.

As with holidays, vacations, and other events that come around infrequently, the goal is to enjoy the day and then get back to balanced eating at the next meal. All foods can be a part of a balanced diet as long as it is done in moderation. Be sure to plan healthier meals and snacks leading up to and surrounding the higher-fat choices that will be available at the fair!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition walking healthy eating calories summer fair food

Meet Metabolism Head On: Burn More Calories and Speed Up Weight Loss

Have you looked at yourself in the mirror, maybe a few pounds heavier, lacking youthful energy, and just tired, and said, “What in the world happened to me?” Maybe this is all too familiar, but, unless you have found the fountain of youth, you might have been searching for answers to questions mankind has been asking forever.

A lot of how your body ages has to do with not only wear and tear, but also nutrition, wellness, sleep, and genetics. Focusing on your metabolism, which is derived from and influenced by these factors and everything from the food you eat to how much you sleep, to how active you are, could be the gateway to figuring out what you can do to reach your goals and, more importantly, happiness.

What Causes Slow Metabolism?

Your metabolism is simply a chemical process in which your body converts things you eat into energy. What causes a slow metabolism? For starters, you must understand that metabolism is different for everyone depending on size (larger people burn more calories than smaller people), gender (females tend to carry less muscle mass than men do, leading to lower metabolic rates), and age (as we age, muscle density decreases, leading to lower metabolic rates). Your metabolism will decrease when there is less muscle present in the body. A fit 180-pound person may burn 1,800 calories, while a couch-potato 180-pound person might burn only 1,400 calories in a 24-hour period (according to mayoclinic.org).

How Can You Increase Your Metabolism?

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What can you do to improve your metabolism today and in the future? The most basic answers are exercise more and eat healthier, but here are some more ideas that you might not have thought of that can help boost your metabolism.

  • Eat breakfast every day. Eating breakfast will boost your metabolism by firing up the body processes earlier in the day. Not only does your body need fuel to power through until lunchtime, while you are digesting the food, more calories are being burned than if you hadn’t eaten anything at all.
  • Get more sleep. Going to bed earlier and getting the right amount of sleep will allow your body to regenerate properly. After a taxing day at work or in the gym, your body will only fully recover if it is given the proper rest needed to regrow. The fully rested body will be able to go 100 percent at the next training session and will be able to surpass previous achievements. (Bonus: While sleeping, it is hard to eat your dessert.)
  • Drink more water. Our bodies are largely made of water to begin with, but without proper hydration, some body functions and processes do not happen as they should. It has been said that drinking ice-cold water can also help increase your metabolism because your body expends heat/energy to warm itself once the cool water is in your stomach.

As you can see, these suggestions are not groundbreaking or out of touch with reality. Many people today neglect themselves and do not get these basic needs met, which is part of the reason they are not happy with the way they look and feel. If you are one of them, assess your current situation. Are you getting enough sleep, good enough nutrition, plenty of water, and plenty of exercise? If not, you might need to refocus your goals so that you can create the balance necessary to improve your metabolism.

NIFS can help! You can meet with a Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS to talk about your goals and schedule an appointment for a BOD POD and/or Resting Metabolic Rate test. This will help you set a benchmark and also set realistic goals for yourself. Be the best you can be as you meet your metabolism head on!

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: weight loss calories metabolism goals slow metabolism

How Many Calories Are You Consuming When Dining Out?

GettyImages-523697434In 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act, it was required that all chain restaurants, groceries, and convenience stores post their calories for customers to see. Some started right away, and you might have noticed them pop up at Starbucks or McDonalds over the years. However, on May 7, 2018, it finally took effect that all food sellers with more than 20 locations now must have the calorie postings visible, with access to all nutrition information available upon request.

Why This Change Is Such a Good Thing

Americans currently eat and drink a third of their calories away from home. The purpose of putting the calorie count on the menus, display boards, and digital screens was to help Americans make more informed choices and hopefully choose healthier options that are available. The FDA has shown that since menu labeling began, consumers have decreased the number of calories ordered by 30 to 50, which could mean a 3–5-pound weight loss in a year.

Tips for Better Nutrition When Dining Out

If you currently dine out, here are some tips to help make the best decision when ordering:

  • Think your drink. The drink you choose can add up to 500 calories to your meal, yet doesn’t affect how full you will feel when you drink it. Instead, look for calorie-free drink options. Water and unsweetened iced tea are the best; however, occasionally you can choose a diet soda or sugar-free lemonade to go along with your meal. This new labeling will also list the calorie content for alcohol, so make sure to include those calories when planning a balanced meal.
  • Load up on veggies. Consider swapping the traditional side of fries, chips, tots, etc. for a vegetable. Salads, raw veggie sticks, or a hot vegetable option when available will keep the meal high in fiber and lower in fat and calories.
  • Choose a protein. Protein helps keep you full and satisfied, so if you don’t want to be reaching for a snack an hour after your meal, be sure to have a protein source at every meal. Anytime you can choose a lean protein like poultry, seafood, and lean red meat, it’s even better!
  • Go for the whole grain. Protein isn’t the only thing that will keep you full; so does fiber. Choosing a whole grain when available is another must for staying satisfied longer. Choose a whole-wheat pizza crust, brown rice, or whole-wheat pasta or rolls when they are offered.
  • Practice portion control. Many meals eaten out are so large that you can easily save half and have it for another meal or split the meal with your dining partner. Keep in mind portion sizes: one serving of meat should be the size the palm of your hand, sides are around the size of a tennis ball, and added fat like butter is the size of the tip of your thumb.
  • Try mindfulness. So many times when you dine out, it’s for a quick and easy meal or a celebration or social event. During these times you could be distracted and not paying attention to your hunger and fullness levels. Take time to pause between bites and assess whether you are full and can save some of the meal for later.

Take advantage of the new labeling as a way to help you stay informed about your choices. Look over the menus and choose a reasonable meal that will let you leave the restaurant happy with your choice!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition weight loss calories dining out restaurants

Low-Calorie Cinco de Mayo Recipes

GettyImages-507532058A lot of Americans see Cinco de Mayo as a reason to celebrate with all-you-can-eat chips and salsa, margaritas as big as your head, and lots of calorie-laden Mexican foods. Instead of the high calorie, high price route try these recipes and tortilla chip alternatives.

100-Calorie Super-Skinny Margarita

3 oz. Sparkling ICE Lemon Lime flavor (or any calorie-free sparkling lemon-lime water)
1½ oz. tequila
Juice from 1 orange
Juice from 1 lime
Shake all ingredients and pour over ice. Serve with a lime wedge.

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
¾ tsp salt
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 cups sliced onion (about 1 large)
1 Tbsp lime juice
8 corn tortillas, warmed
Lime wedges, cilantro, sour cream, avocado and/or pico de gallo for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally, then slice crosswise into strips.
  3. Combine oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat with the spice mixture. Add bell peppers and onion and stir to combine.
  4. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
  5. Roast on the middle rack for 15 minutes. Leave the pan there and turn the broiler to high. Broil until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are browning in spots, about 5 minutes more.
  6. Remove from oven.
  7. Stir in lime juice.
  8. Serve the chicken and vegetables in warmed tortillas accompanied by lime wedges and topped with cilantro, sour cream, avocado, and/or pico de gallo, if desired. One serving equals two fajitas.

Tortilla chip alternatives for salsa and guacamole dipping:

  • Cucumbers
  • Cocktail shrimp
  • Zucchini sticks
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Carrot sticks
  • Rice crackers
  • Lentil chips

If you choose tortilla chips, stick to a serving, which is 12 chips!

If you want to celebrate the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on May 5 this year, throw together these improved-nutrition recipes with fewer calories, see these other tips for healthy eating at parties, and enjoy!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating recipes calories holidays