“Fed Up”: Are all calories created equal?

I recently read an interview with Laurie David about her new documentary “Fed Up” (co-produced with Katie Couric) that explores sugar in our diet and raises the question: are all calories created equal?

According to Dr. David Ludwig, the director of the obesity program at Boston Children’s Hospital, they are not. An article about the documentary published on The New York Times wellness blog, summarizes some of the findings in the film by saying that in recent studiesDr. Ludwig has shown that high-carbohydrate diets appear to slow metabolic rates compared to diets higher in fat and protein, so that people expend less energy even when consuming the same number of calories. Dr. Ludwig has found that unlike calories from so-called low glycemic foods (like beans, nuts and non-starchy vegetables), those from high glycemic foods (such as sugar, bread and potatoes) spike blood sugar and stimulate hunger and cravings, which can drive people to overeat.

While people can certainly lose weight in the short term by focusing on calories, Dr. Ludwig said, studies show that the majority of people on calorie-restricted diets eventually fail. “The common explanation is that people have difficulty resisting temptation,” he said. “But another possibility is that highly processed foods undermine our metabolism and overwhelm our behavior.” 

Furthermore,  Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard Medical School whose research was cited by experts in the film, said that the long-held idea that we get fat solely because we consume more calories than we expend is based on outdated science.

Apparently, the jury is still out on this one though. The article sites a  2012 study conducted by Dr. Y Claire Wang of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, that found that the average child must eliminate 64 calories a day in order for the childhood obesity rate to fall to 14.6 percent by 2020, a goal set by the federal government. While studies consistently show that sugary beverages, potato chips and other high-glycemic foods are indeed associated with weight gain, she suggests that this could be because they are rapidly digested and easy to consume in large amounts, “not because they bypass our energy balance.”

I hope more research is devoted to nutrition and the effect of processed foods on the human body. In the mean time, I will do my best to update you on all new research that comes out on the subject. My rule of thumb? Avoid processed food and added sugars completely. While there has yet to be a study that conclusively finds that processed foods and added sugars cause weight gain, cancer, etc., I have yet to find a study that suggests any of these “fake” foods are good for you.

Have any of my FIT friends seen this documentary? Have any of you removed processed foods from your diet in an effort to lose weight? What have the results been? I know I can’t wait to see “Fed Up” and look forward to updating you all on my thoughts.




FITLife- In Action

Why do short weeks, always end up feeling like the longest weeks?  Nevertheless, the FITgals are amping up for SPRING!  Squeezing in quick workouts and making healthy meal choices to get us ready for those cute spring dresses!

What are you doing to Spring into Action? 


Gaby’s quick FIT workout, before date night!


Can anyone guess where Liz is?


Juice it up! Thank you Sweet Green Glover Park!


Gaby rockin the little black dress for date night!


The view from Liz’s LA hike!

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FITmama can’t wait for spring, so she’s amping up her GREENS!


Gabys new obsession! Her new Brooks running sneaks!

If you are looking for some extra FIT motivation, sign up for our FIT Night Out next Saturday, March 2nd!

Have a great weekend everyone!

FITfriends: wannabeFIT


The foundation of this next challenge was initially to avoid eating dairy for one week. My attempts at that challenge have not gone so well. (They began with a rebellious craving to stuff my mouth with all the cheese I could get my hands on. And Halloween candy.)  So, we decided to go a little smaller.

I’ve recently become aware of all the health benefits a vegan diet can ensure. And despite the fact that my younger self (who would only eat Filet Mignon when we went out to dinner) would have me believe that we humans are carnivores, we, in fact, are not. (At least I avoided all the fatty parts with my steak choice, right?) I don’t think Melissa is giving me bonus points on that one…

Anyway, I’ve grown up my whole life with an understanding that many other Americans have too: that we need a lot of meat and dairy. Right? Isn’t that what we learned from the food pyramid?  Wrong. The reality is that our portions regarding animal protein for those who do eat this way are largely exaggerated or SUPERSIZED! Using a chicken breast? It only needs to be 6oz. That’s about the size of your palm. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a chicken breast that small.

My challenge is to incorporate more vegan meals into my diet and less animal protein. I’m not going 100% vegan. I just want to try to incorporate more healthful foods (fruits, veggies, grains, etc..), and this is a great way to do so! As a result, I got really excited when I found a recommended vegan cookbook in my Whole Living Magazine. (In an issue from February—yea, I’m a little behind.) I quickly ordered it online and waited for it to arrive… (and grew really disappointed in the meantime while I checked out my other cookbooks and realized more than half of these recipes no longer applied to vegan standards. Oh well.)

Finally, the book arrived! The next day, I headed to the grocery store with my loving boyfriend, who stood with me in the produce aisle as I read to him what we needed straight from the cookbook in my hand (yes, as everyone was rushing around us to prepare for Hurricane Sandy). We were a little dismayed when we got to the bean aisle and it was almost cleared out from storm preparation, but there were still some selections left.

That night, we put this recipe (Spaghetti Bolognese) together. The faux-meat base was made from the beans, walnuts, and mushrooms, which we pureed in the food processor. The consistency made us a little uneasy…(I think my boyfriend murmured something about cat food…) But he added some extra seasonings, we poured in the marinara sauce and added some basil for garnish, and took a bite!

My thought process went like this: Not bad. Ok, I can eat this. No, not bad at all. This is actually pretty good for having no meant and no dairy. Wow, I’m eating a dinner with no meat at all! This is a recipe that I can make again in the future. I like it! I’m excited to have leftovers for tomorrow!  The recipe didn’t completely blow me away and convert me into a new-born vegan, but it was still good and definitely worthwhile.  My new goal is to plan a vegan night once a week!

Vegan success!



Spaghetti Bolognese- Serves 4 to 6


1 lb spaghetti

1 cup walnuts

8oz crimini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

1 15oz can pinto or kidney beans, rinsed, drained, and patted dry

½ cup all-purpose flour, or gluten-free all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 24oz jar marinara sauce

¼ cup soy, almond, or rice milk

1 tablespoon brown sugar or maple syrup

Chopped fresh basil for garnish, optional


1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, make the sauce by processing walnuts in a food processor until a fine crumbly meal forms. Add mushrooms and pulse about 15 times until mushrooms are finely chopped. Add beans, flour, basil, salt, and pepper and pulse about 10 more times. Do not overprocess; it should be crumbly and chunky.

3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer mushroom mixture to the pan and let cook, turning frequently with a spatula, until the mixture is evenly browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add marinara sauce, nondairy milk, and brown sugar and stir until heated through. The nondairy milk and brown sugar will soften the acidity of the tomatoes.

4. Top hot pasta with sauce, garnish with basil, and serve. Delish!!