Archive for the Category Dietary Supplements


The Best Artificial Sweetener

There are many different artificial sweeteners on the market and all of them have their own pros and cons. Most people only see the cons side of the equation.

The pro is pretty simple, they taste sweet without adding any calories. The con side isn’t so obvious. There is much fear and debate about artificial sweeteners. Some people think they cause everything from cancer to dementia and that they’re down right poison.

Other people happily trade the potential unknown health risks for the low calorie option they provide.

From what I can tell the science isn’t 100% definitive on exactly what the potential effects are of using one artificial sweetener over another for the long term.

So I take a bit of a moderate approach.

For starters there are multiple artificial sweeteners that chemically are quite different from each other and thus have different effects.

You’ll likely find one or two that seem to work for you palate better than the others. The common ones are sucralose, acesulfame potassium, aspartame, saccharin, and a relative new comer called Stevia.

Stevia seems to be the most benign with minimal side effects and the taste isn’t overwhelming. Some research is even being done on it’s potential health promoting effects when used as a sugar substitute.

But even with something as promising as stevia you can eventually get bored or tired of the taste and want something else.

I suggest using Stevia as your go-to artificial sweetener when you have to use one. You can also mix the others in when you don’t have access to Stevia, or you happen to only have the others available.

Don’t rely too heavily on artificial sweeteners in general as learning to cook and shop for food items with more whole natural ingredients will always serve your gut health and weight loss better.

Bottom line, sweeteners can help you satisfy a sweet tooth without adding the calories of sugar. Stevia is my preferred choice. The other sweeteners are ok to have once in a while but try whenever you can to eat whole food that is naturally sweetened.

Are Low-Cal Sweeteners Helpful or Harmful?

Although the jury is still out on whether or not sugar is actually addictive, many people feel that they have strong cravings for sugary foods, similar to those encountered by people recovering from alcohol and substance abuse.

The American diet is undoubtedly too rich in ‘added sugars’ – i.e. sugars and syrups added to processed foods and drinks like soda, energy drinks and sports drinks. The recently released Scientific Report of the 20145 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, scheduled for imminent publication, advices us to curtail added sugars to no more than 10 per cent of our total calorie intake.

The researchers note: “Strong and consistent evidence shows that intake of added sugars from food and/or sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with excess body weight in children and adults.”

Several new studies suggest that low-calorie sweeteners are not the culprits they were painted out to be, since when consumed at reasonable levels, they may be helpful for weight control, yet the above-mentioned report does not go so far as to recommend them as replacements for sugary beverages. So what should we make of current evidence?

Safety Conclusions

One of the most popular low-cal sweeteners, aspartame, was recently reviewed by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), who coincided with the members of the European Food Safety Authority Panel on Food Additives. The latter found that aspartame intake should be below 40mg per kilogram of body weight per day, equivalent to a 132-pound adult consuming at least 12 cans of diet soda for the rest of his/her life.

More recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics released its ‘Position Statement on Snacks, Sweetened Beverages, Added Sugars and Schools,’ stating that low calorie sweeteners “have shown good safety over time.”

The DGAC and the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety gave safety endorsements for low cal sweeteners yet were reticent to recommend that they replace added sugars, expressing concern about a recent study suggesting a link between aspartame and the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma in men (association is not causation, however, and further research on the matter is required).

Recent studies also suggest that low calorie sweeteners do not cause weight gain and cravings for sweet foods though as of yet, we still require more evidence to accept low calorie sweeteners as part of a strategy for long-term weight loss and maintenance.

For further information: Are Low Calorie Sweeteners Helpful or Harmful?

What are Best and Cheapest Sources of Protein?

Some say whey protein supplements are one of the most inexpensive ways to get extra protein in your diet. If that’s the case, it would be smart to keep a steady supply of protein powder in your house if you’re following a high protein diet.

I’ve been fasting intermittently (fasting once or twice a week) for more than six years now, so I do sometimes think a little extra protein could be good for me. If I can find an inexpensive and convenient way to get extra protein, I’m interested.

So I decided to do some research on my own.

First I checked the price of high-end protein powders. I chose BlueStar Protein Powder, purchasing a five-pound tub for $90 online.

I read the label and learned that I was getting 2,000 grams of protein for $90. (Remember that not everything contained in protein powder is actually protein.)

Next, I calculated the price per serving. Assuming I only use one 30-gram serving per day, the cost per day came to $1.50.

Next I went to my local Wal-Mart and found 6 Star Whey Protein (from the makers of MuscleTech) at $40 for a four-pound container.

This brand gave me 1,210 grams of protein for $40. The cost per serving came to about $1 per day.

So it would seem that an acceptable price range for 30 grams of protein from protein powder is between $1 and $1.50.

Next, I checked to find out the prices of other protein sources. (These prices apply to the Ontario, Canada, area. Prices may be different in your area, but comparisons should be similar.)

Liberty Greek Vanilla Yogurt 0%, 500 grams for $4.99

With this item, you get 43 grams of protein for $4.99. So 30 grams of protein from Greek Yogurt costs $3.48 – a pretty pricey protein source.

Skim Milk, 4 Liters for $5.29

The price of milk ranges greatly, depending on whether you want organic milk or regular milk. I chose the least expensive milk I could find. Four liters of milk contain 144 grams of protein, so you get 144 grams of protein for $5.29 – which translates to 30 grams for $1.10. That’s a good price.

Large Eggs, 1 dozen for $2.39

A dozen eggs contains 72 grams of protein for $2.39, or 30 grams for about $0.99. That’s the best price yet.

Maple Leaf Prime Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, 1 kilogram for $20

According to the USDA food database, you’ll get 210 grams of protein in 1 kilogram of chicken, at a cost of $20. For 30 grams of protein, the cost is $2.85. At a local grocery store, I found 1 kilogram of boneless skinless chicken breasts for $8.80. That breaks down to a cost of $1.25 for 30 grams of protein from chicken. This is more expensive than I would have thought it would be.

Now let’s look at beef.

The price of been can range anywhere from $11 per kilogram all the way up to $28 per kilogram at local grocery stores. Local butchers would charge more. To be fair, I chose a lower priced cut, but not a tough cut.

Certified Angus Eye of Round Steak, $15 per kilogram

The USDA food database says you’ll get 293 grams of protein in an eye of round steak – at a cost of $15 per kilogram. This translates to about $1.53 for 30 grams of protein.

I was surprised at how close the price ranges were in various sources of protein. Protein powders seem to fall within the same price range as protein sources we find in everyday foods. The average price tends to be about $1 to $1.50 per 30 grams.

Finally, I priced some of the “cheaper versions” of protein powder.

Nestle Carnation Instant Milk Powder

This can be purchased at a price of $7.99 for 500 grams. Contained in those 500 grams are 160 grams of protein. You’re paying $1.50 for 30 grams of protein.

Based on my analysis, it does appear that protein powder is an economical way to get protein in your diet – but it’s really no more economical than purchasing traditional protein foods.

The biggest benefit to protein powders seems to be in what you’re NOT paying for, which are things such as extra carbs, fats and calories. Milk, eggs, chicken, and beef all contain much more than just protein. In order to get 30 grams of protein from beef, you’ll also have to consume a considerable amount of fat. To get 30 grams of protein from milk or yogurt, you’ll also consume carbs and fat. If you’re attempting to maintain a low body fat level, this may not be the best option for you.

You should also consider the amount of time you’ll need to spend preparing foods like beef, chicken or eggs before you can consume them.

While protein powder costs about the same amount as traditional protein sources, it has advantages in two critical categories:

– Protein powder requires no preparation time. Cooking is not required.

– Protein powders are nearly 100 percent protein. They don’t contain fat, carbs or calories.

Protein is expensive in any form. While adding an extra 30 grams a day to your diet may only cost you about $1, there is no reason to spend $10 on an extra 100 grams of protein if it isn’t going to help you reach your goals.