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Protein Smoothie for the Win

protein smoothie

Stop for a moment and consider your favorite smoothie. What’s in it?  Is there protein? Or is it simply fruit and water? If not, you’re missing out.  Actually, you’re missing out big time.


Why? Smoothies are an opportunity for better nutrition, if and when they are made right. Smoothies made without much protein will likely just be providing a lot of carbohydrate to your diet, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if the carbohydrates are coming from fruits and dairy. But if the carbs are coming from honey, sugar, fruit juices, nectars and other flavoring agents, then you’re just adding more calories without getting the added bonus of nutrients. (And by the way, excess calories gets stored as fat in the body.)


Back to protein though – when its added to a smoothie, it helps you feel fuller for longer, which means you won’t be craving more food shortly afterwards. So if you’re making a breakfast smoothie, try making a high protein yogurt smoothie or protein fruit smoothie using Greek yogurt.

Berry Toga Smoothie

1 cup frozen blueberries (0g protein)

100g plain Greek yogurt (10g protein)

½ cup milk 1% (9g protein)

Optional: 1 teaspoon of honey or sugar (0g protein)

Total Approximate Protein Content: 19 grams


To add a flavor punch, turn this basic into a…

Chocolate protein smoothie – by adding a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder (1g protein)

Whey protein smoothie / Protein powder smoothie – by adding ½ -1 scoop of chocolate or vanilla whey protein powder (average 20-40g protein per 1 scoop)*


*Most people don’t need to add protein powder unless they are trying to gain weight and having difficulty doing so. There are also people who struggle with food intake or live a lifestyle where it’s a struggle to prepare homemade snacks and foods. In these situations, it may be acceptable to take a protein powder smoothie, but it still wouldn’t be my first choice recommendation. Also, some people mistakenly take protein powder thinking it’ll help them lose weight, but it may be doing the opposite if you’re already having 3 balanced meals with snacks and meeting your needs through real food.


For a yummy protein breakfast smoothie when you don’t have yogurt or berries, try this recipe:


Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

1 cup milk 1% or plain soy milk (9g or 7g protein, respectively)

1 banana (fresh or frozen) (1g protein)

2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (8g protein)

Total Approximate Protein Content: 16-18 grams


For some people who use protein smoothie recipes weight loss may occur, if you take them as part of a healthy diet. It’s especially useful for those who routinely skip breakfast or have breakfast at fast food chains or restaurants. Research shows that the people who successfully lose weight and keep weight off always have breakfast, ideally within 1 hour of waking up. Also, restaurant breakfasts are usually high in saturated fat (from ham, sausages, bacon and eggs, buttered bread, etc) and high in calories as well. A quick and easy breakfast smoothie will offer a tasty and nutritious alternative to eating out AND cut calories AND prevent you from overeating at lunch by getting your day started right.


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Precision Engineered Whey Protein – Yay or Nay?

precision engineered whey protein

In the world of whey protein, there’s a lot of debate over which one is the best. Source of protein, amount of protein per serving, and costs are amongst the main topics for consideration.  Let’s take a closer look at one company today and complete a Precision Engineered whey protein product review. A quick internet search will help you see that Precision Engineered products have mixed reviews. As a dietitian, I’ll be focusing on the nutrition facts of the product and ignore commenting on taste profiles and palatability. You can be the judge on that front.


Nutrition Facts Breakdown, on average:


Precision Engineered Whey Protein Isolate (Hardcore Series, vanilla)

– 1 scoop, 36grams, Protein 30g; Carbs 3g; Calories 140


Precision Engineered Whey Protein (vanilla)

– 1 scoop, 24grams Protein 18g; Carbs 2g; Calories 93

– 1.5 scoop, 36grams Protein 27g; Carbs 3g; Calories 140


You’ll notice that the hardcore series offers a minimal amount of added protein when the amount is adjusted between the two products. Don’t let sneaky marketing with the use of words like “hardcore” get to you. If there is a huge price difference between the two products, get the cheaper one because nutritionally, they’re practically identical.


How Much Protein is in Common Foods?

Here is a list of common foods and their respective protein content:

Food Group Food Protein Content
Meat and Alternatives Beef sirloin steak, 75 g 26 g
Tofu, firm, raw, 75 g 21 g
Pork tenderloin, 75 g 21 g
Chicken, skinless breast, 75 g 20 g
Tuna, canned light, 75 g 19 g
Eggs, whole cooked, 2 large 13 g
Kidney beans, boiled, 175 mL (¾ cup) 12 g
Lentils, boiled, 175 mL (¾ cup) 13 g
Almonds, 60 mL (¼ cup) 8 g
Peanut Butter, 15mL (1 tbsp) 4 g
Milk and Alternatives Cottage cheese, 125 mL (½ cup) 15 g
Cheddar cheese, 50 g (1¾ oz) 12 g
Milk, 250 mL (1 cup) 8 g
Yogurt, 175 mL (¾ cup) 8 g
Grain Products Whole-wheat pasta, cooked, 125 mL (½ cup) 4 g
Whole-wheat bread, 1 slice 3 g
Brown rice, cooked, 125 mL (½ cup) 3 g
Oatmeal, prepared, 175 mL (¾ cup) 3 g
Vegetables and Fruit Potato, with skin, cooked, 125 mL (½ cup) 5 g
Broccoli, cooked, 125 mL (½ cup) 2 g
Butternut squash, cooked, 125 mL (½ cup) 1 g
Banana, raw, 1 medium 1 g
Apple juice, bottled, 125 mL (½ cup) 0 g


Some reviewers of Precision Engineered Whey Protein complain that this product doesn’t have enough protein and concludes that hence, the product is less effective for building muscle. I offer an example to look at this from a different perspective:

  • 180 lb (81.8kg) male athlete that trains intensely almost daily requires about 1.2-1.5g protein per kg body weight per day = 98 to 123g protein per day
  • 3-4 scoops of the hardcore series or 4.5-6 scoops of the original provides this amount


Alternatively, the same amount of protein can be easily achieved through regular food intake:

  • Breakfast: ¾ cup Oatmeal + 2 Eggs + 1 cup Milk = 27g
  • Morning Snack: ¾ cup Yogurt + 1 medium Banana = 9g
  • Lunch: 2.5oz Chicken Salad Sandwich (2 slices bread) = 26g
  • Afternoon Snack: ¼ cup Almonds + ½ cup Apple Juice = 8g
  • Dinner: 5oz steak + 2/3 cup Mixed Vegetables + 1 cup Rice = 58g


There is no evidence to support that protein intake above 1.7grams per kg body weight per day is beneficial or necessary to support training (unless you’re a growing adolescent athlete, then up to 2.0g/kg is acceptable). If too much protein is taken, there is a risk that not enough other nutrients such as carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, and minerals are taken. It’s a common misconception that more protein helps build more muscle, but in fact, additional calories coming from any source gets stored as fat. Hence, I think this product has sufficient protein.


In fact, my concern lies in the low carbohydrate content. Current research tells us that the optimal recovery food post workout is a combination of protein and carbohydrate. This product has barely any carbohydrate. Post exercise recovery is optimized when approximately 20grams of protein is taken, regardless of body weight.


One solution is to mix the Precision Engineered whey protein powder (1 scoop provides 24g protein, 2g carbs) with 1 cup milk instead of water. This would bump up the nutrition to 32g protein and 14g of carbohydrates to promote better recovery since the carbohydrate can be used for fuel, reserving the amino acids from the protein for rebuilding muscle.


Alternatively, you could eat a sandwich made with 2 slices of bread and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, with 1 cup of milk which would provide a total of 22g of protein, 45g carbohydrate.


If you ask me, the food option is a more natural and cheaper option that provides an amount closer to what post exercise protein needs are without going over as well as additional carbohydrates to reserve the amino acids for muscle building instead of being used up as fuel.



Jeukendrup, A. (2010). Sports Nutrition From Lab to Kitchen. In A. Jeukendrup, Sports Nutrition From Lab to Kitchen (pp. 78-79). Aachen: Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK) Ltd.

Health Canada. Canadian nutrient file (CNF) , 2007. Accessed June 28, 2010.


Photo courtesty of www.vitaminworld.com

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Healthy Lifestyle Tips For Parties & Holidays

holiday turkey


Hurray! Another holiday season is upon us and there’s a reason to party, get together with old friends, and recall stories of the past and talk about plans for the future. Good times, indeed. Don’t let the holidays bring a damper to your party because you’re worried about putting on weight. Remember, during the holidays, wanting to lose weight fast isn’t realistic. The goal should be to maintain your current weight until the holidays have past, and then resume your weight loss pursuits. Following the healthy living tips below will be much easier and more effective than any diet plan you’ll encounter.


1. Before arriving at a party, have a small snack so you’re not starving on arrival. Curb your appetite with some cheese and crackers or veggies and hummus or yogurt with fruit about an hour before your party. It’ll prevent overeating, guaranteed. (Note: Having a protein-containing snack between lunch and dinner is one of those healthy lifestyle habits that help curb cravings and prevent overeating whether you’re headed home for a ‘regular meal’ or a party!)

2. Tackle the buffet table with some tact. For the first round, fill your plate with vegetables, fruits, lean meats and small amounts of starch. If you go for a second round, choose small portions of other foods, which shouldn’t be too hard at this point since you’ll likely be getting full already from your first healthy plate.

3. Many popular “diets that work for sure” over restrict portion sizes and make it difficult for people to sustain healthy living while achieving their weight goals. Instead of following a strict regime that’s hard to maintain, use ‘the plate method’ as a guide. Fill your plate with half vegetables, a quarter lean protein, and a quarter grains at each meal.

4. Cocktail parties mean finger foods. The best healthy eating tips involve helping people become more mindful of their eating. Be very selective of what you place in your plate because chances are you’ll nibble at it without thinking how much you’re consuming. Choose raw veggies like cucumber, broccoli florets and baby carrots, which are nutritionally dense but low in calories. If you’re feeling extra motivated, skip the dip.

5. Alcoholic beverages still fit into this ‘diet plan’ but take it in moderation. Generally, men are allowed up to 2 standard drinks per day while women have their maximum set at 1-1.5 standard drinks per day. Calories from drinks can add up, so try to choose drinks mixed with diet pop or club soda versus juices and regular sodas.

6. Start a new holiday tradition by building physical activity into the celebration festivities. Healthy lifestyle choices require daily commitment. With the support of family and friends, the process will be much more enjoyable and everyone you care about will reap the benefits of better health too! Ideas of where to start include: Before serving dinner, have everyone go for a half hour walk together instead of sitting around the couch. It’ll be a great way to relieve stress and boost your metabolism a bit before eating. For more exercise tips, consider going to your local fitness center and asking one of the class instructors or personal trainers.

TRY THIS HEALTHY RECIPE (Courtesy of Dietitians of Canada)


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Insanity Nutrition Guide


Ever heard of Insanity? If not, Google “Insanity Workout” and read up on how the workout program promises weight loss and a better looking body in 60 days. That, or stay up late one night and you’re bound to see a television infomercial for it. No matter how many times I’ve seen it pop up on T.V., I’m still oddly captivated by how everyday people get staggering results.

But is it really as “simple” as just doing the workouts, which, to me looks about as easy as lifting a monster truck with my pinky? No. And no insanity workout review would be a fair assessment if it didn’t emphasize the importance of the free insanity nutrition guide download that accompanies the program.

My skepticism melted away as I reviewed the 52 page insanity nutrition guide pdf download. I thought id’ be suggesting that carbohydrates are the enemy, all fats are evil, and taking 500 calories a day for months will do the trick for weight loss. I also thought it wouldn’t be surprising if they threw in a FREE insanity workout calendar with ‘specially formulated’ miracle drinks to promote extreme weight loss IF YOU BUY NOW! (Sorry, those infomercials have an odd grip on my brain.)

Thankfully, I was so, so wrong. Short of going to see a dietitian for expert advice, the insanity nutrition guide printable manual presents safe nutrition advice that’s fairly easy to follow and not too intimidating. It offers a systematic approach to tailoring each person’s unique calorie needs, goals, and emphasizes variety and hydration as key to good health. Honestly? I had to read it a couple times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming or not catching some fine, fine print.

My favorite aspects of the insanity nutrition guide:

  • Uses a predictive equation to estimate resting energy expenditure based on a person’s unique characteristics including gender, height, weight, age
  • Takes into account people’s different activity level and increases caloric requirements
  • Suggests a 500 calorie/day deficit to promote steady weight loss of 1 pound/week, which is safe and sustainable versus dramatic hypo-caloric diets that often result in rebound weight gain
  • Promotes 3 meals and 2 snacks, totaling 5 meals a day spread several hours at a time, with meal ideas that have protein, carbohydrate, and vegetables/fruit
  • Emphasizes lean proteins, low-fat dairy, healthy fat additions, complex carbohydrate food choices over saturated fats and refined sugars

Looking for the insanity nutrition guide printable version?

Go to: http://www.teamunify.com/cast/__doc__/Insanity%20Nutrition%20Guide.pdf

(I want to be sure we’re looking at the same document, in case there are other insanity nutrition guide manuals out there.)


The bottom line is:

  • Nutrition is the foundation of good health, whether or not you do insanity
  • You are unique, so your eating plan needs to match your needs and goals, not ‘that guy in the infomercial ‘ or ‘your cousin Suzie’ or ‘uncle Frank’
  • Follow the insanity nutrition guide if you are doing the insanity workouts. It just makes sense to do the program in its entirety. Is it really realistic to expect 100% results from doing 50% of the work?
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Healthy Grocery List – Shopping Smarts

grocery shopping

Grocery shopping can be such a chore after a busy day running errands and doing work. It’s no wonder that we’re tempted to buy convenience foods and quick-prep food items when we’re at the grocery store – our minds are trying to maximize our time so we spend less time in the kitchen and more time on other things.

Healthy grocery shopping requires us to plan ahead and avoid the common trap of buying processed foods and treats that we can go without (both for our health and our wallets!). Don’t get stuck making bad choices when shopping for food. Follow these simple and easy tips to make every trip to the grocery store a health-provoking one.

Tip #1 – Have some food before you go shopping

Hunger can cloud our judgment and make us buy more foods that are higher in salt, sugar, and fat. Our brains are wired such that we need the nutrients from food to keep us thinking clearly. Make sure you eat a meal or snack and drink fluids so you’re in a neutral state of mind when you go shopping. Some healthy snacks include: peanut butter on Triscuits, small slice of cheese with fresh pear, handful of nuts or a small apple.

Tip #2 – Write a “eating healthy grocery list” and stick to it

Try keeping a magnetic notepad on your fridge door. Once you run out of something such as toilet paper, milk, or frozen blueberries, add it to the list and don’t add any extras. By sticking to your list of essentials, you won’t be tempted to buy extra foods like ice-cream, cookies, etc. unless it’s a special occasion. This tip will also help you save some money in the long run.

After a while, you’ll be able to write out a healthy grocery list template based so healthy grocery shopping is made easy no matter who goes to pick up the groceries.

Tip #3 – Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid the aisles if possible

Every major grocery store is set up in a similar fashion. Fresh, unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruit, breads, milk and dairy products, and meat and alternatives are stocked along the periphery of the store. The aisles in the center of the store are where you’ll find processed items. Some processed items aren’t bad at all, such as no or low sodium canned goods, plain frozen vegetables and fruit, high fiber low sugar breakfast cereals, and spices. However, a lot of processed foods such as chips, salsa, pop, candy are much less healthy for you. By first filling your grocery cart with fresh foods from the perimeter, you’ll think twice about whether you really need to venture the aisles and battle temptation.

Finally, many grocery stores such as Save-On-Foods and Choices Markets, both from British Columbia, offer free nutrition tours where a registered dietitian takes individuals and groups along a store to offer healthy eating and shopping tips. The tours can be catered to the needs of the group as well. So whether you’re looking for help in developing a “healthy grocery list for college students” that are about to move out or a “healthy grocery list for men” in your home that were never taught formally how to buy groceries (and quite honestly, could use a tip or two), you’re in good hands! I have had the privilege of being an attendee it’s always a fantastic experience. I can see how beneficial it would be for small families needing tips for writing a “healthy grocery list on a budget” or groups of elementary or high school students as they learn about healthy eating. Take advantage of the opportunity if your neighborhood store offers this service!


GM Diet Plan for Weight Loss


In short, this diet scares me. I blurted out, “Are you kidding me?” a couple times in my head.

The GM diet menu consists of no alcohol, but plenty of water as basic rules, coupled with a strict 7 day plan that promises rapid weight loss, improved energy levels, and detoxification. There are modified plans such as the “GM diet plan for Indians” and “GM diet plan vegetarian” available that include respective GM diet charts and GM diet tips. Interestingly, the GM diet plan Indian version has gained popularity since its development in 1985.

A quick summary of the GM detox diet

(and my concerns below each day)

Day 1: unlimited fruits, no bananas, melons preferred

  • Diabetics beware! This is NOT for you! Fruits contain carbohydrate, which causes sugar spikes when taken in large amounts or not coupled with a protein source. Taking an unlimited amount for a day will lead to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and cause damage to the intricate blood vessels that carry blood to all parts of your body, including your retinas and kidneys.

Day 2: potatoes for breakfast, vegetables for lunch and dinner

  • Again, not appropriate for diabetics.
  • Also, not for people with renal (kidney disease) because of the high potassium and phosphorus content, both of which need to be individualized depending on the person’s bloodwork.

Day 3: unlimited vegetables and fruit, vegetable soup encouraged

  • Day 3 without protein, which will lead to feelings of hunger, weakness, soreness, and low energy. Not a good combination for people not in good health, are battling a short-term or long term illness, caring for young children or the elderly or driving to and from work!

Day 4: 3 glasses of milk and up to 8 bananas, small bowl of vegetable soup at dinner encouraged

  • I struggle with the logic of this one. 3 glasses of milk a day is a good thing. 8 bananas? If it’s a means to replenish potassium, there’s no need given potassium is in the fruits, potatoes, and vegetables encouraged on the first three days. Why introduce a surge here?

Day 5: 2, 10oz beef portions with 6 whole tomatoes, drink more water today

  • The extra water is for washing out the added uric acid produced as a byproduct of breaking down protein. More water is always good – no complaints here.
  • Protein…finally! But now there’s no carbohydrate! One day for healthy folk is alright, but diabetics, don’t do it. This will lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and is dangerous to try!

Day 6: unlimited beef and vegetables

  • Vegetables – no problem. If no starchy vegetables are chosen though, there’s no carbs again!
  • Unlimited beef? I fail to see how saturated fat in large amounts qualifies as detox.

Day 7: some brown rice okay, unlimited fruit juice and vegetables

  • No protein means feeling hungry sooner, and often.

This is undoubtedly another rapid weight loss fad diet that should not be tried. Its strategy is simply not sustainable and will likely lead to rebound weight gain. Despite the claims of improved energy, I believe that most people will feel less energetic and for some, downright crummy because of the lack of calories and imbalance of carbohydrates and protein over a week. In fact, because of the ‘unlimited’ amounts of food allowed on different days, I struggle with even saying weight loss is guaranteed. As for detox? The guideline of increased water intake and high fruit/vegetable intake are good ideas with poor execution.

Sorry to be so harsh, makers of the GM diet plan. Your intentions were good and I’m sure some people have benefited from the GM diet tips, but the risks far outweigh the benefits from my perspective. Call me a biased professional, but I stand by gradual weight loss done in a sustainable manner through balanced meals and an increase in physical activity – Hands down. 

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Green Smoothie Recipes

green smoothie

Green smoothies are a great way to get more vegetables into your diet to help you reach your recommended number of servings according to Canada’s Food Guide. Vegetables and fruit are low in fat and calories, but rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They help to reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.  Green smoothie recipes using dark green vegetables such as spinach and kale are important sources of folate, a key nutrient responsible for cell division in developing babies.

Green Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss

Green smoothie recipes are typically low in fat and calories depending on the ingredients. In contrast to high fat breakfasts such as eggs and bacon with buttered toast or pancakes, you’ll enjoy a fresher start to your day and some weight loss over time as you shave off calories every morning by making a healthy green shake versus eating out for breakfast. I don’t like using the term green smoothie diet and much prefer asking you to take the green smoothie challenge for the next 2 weeks to see how you feel and track whether you notice a difference on the scale as well.

As always, a good rule of thumb is to not weigh yourself daily and instead limit yourself to a weekly weigh-in. Our body weight fluctuates about 2 to 3 pounds a day depending on fluid shifts, and timing (before or after a meal or a bowel movement). Choose one day out of the week for your weigh-in. It’s best if you can weigh yourself in the morning after your first bathroom visit but before you eat or drink anything. Repeat on a weekly basis and record the number to track your trends.

Raw Green Smoothie Recipes

Try blending together the following combinations for a simple breakfast or snack:

Chocolate Jungle Monkey Shake

  • 2 dark kale leaves (green, purple, or black work just as well)
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • 1 small banana
  • 2tbsp plain cacao powder
  • 1 cup milk (soy, almond, rice, or hemp milk are okay)
  • (optional) 1 tbsp honey or agave nectar for added sweetness

Forest Strawberry & Banana Shake

  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach leaves
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • (optional) maple syrup for sweetness
  • Blend with water or milk to desired thickness.

Message for the Parents

For parents of young children, it’s important to remember that children model after what their caretakers eat. Even though we’re bombarded with messages on television and from peers and elders of what ‘normal food’ or kid-friendly foods are, ultimately you’ve got the power (and the responsibility) to encourage your kids to eat well. Why go the hard route of making separate foods for the adults and the kids? Use the same green smoothie recipes for kids! Consistently offering children the same foods gives them more opportunity to like it. Foster a commitment in your household to enjoy foods that are good for health, and not the mention, very tasty as well.

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How Much Sodium Per Day is Healthy?

salt in foods

Deep down, I think we all know that having less salt in our diet is good for us. Having fewer processed foods, restaurant meals, and cooking with less salt all contribute toward better heart health. It helps to lower blood pressure in those with hypertension and reduces fluid accumulation for those with congestive heart failure or ascites (abnormal fluid accumulation in the body). So really, “how much sodium per day should I have?” is a loaded question. Let’s break it down into a bunch of smaller questions for simplicity and comprehension’s sake.

How much sodium per day with high blood pressure?

Guidelines are set depending on age range. For adults aged 14 and older, the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends we set a target of 2,300 mg or less per day, which is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of salt. Keep in mind that many foods that do not taste salty may contain (sometimes a lot of) salt as well.

Food Serving Size Sodium mg
Vegetables and Fruit Fresh and most frozen vegetables contain very little sodium.
Peppers (jalapeno, hot chilli), canned/bottled 30 mL (2 Tbsp) 720-843
Tomato sauce (plain or with vegetables), canned/bottled 125 mL (1/2 cup) 585-721
Sauerkraut, canned/bottled 125 mL (1/2 cup) 496
Pickles (sour, dill) 1 small 324-447
Vegetables, all varieties, canned 125 mL (1/2 cup) 209-439
Tomato juice and vegetable cocktail 125 mL (1/2 cup) 345
Stewed tomatoes, canned 125 mL (1/2 cup) 298
Sun-dried tomatoes 7 tomatoes 287
Olives, canned 4 olives 248
Pizza sauce 125 mL (1/2 cup) 246
Grain Products Grains such as rice, barley, quinoa, oats and wheat are low in sodium.
Cream of wheat, all types, cooked 175 mL (3/4 cup) 370
Breakfast cereal, dry, all varieties 30 g 242-332
Oatmeal, instant, cooked 175 mL (3/4 cup) 216-240
Other Grain Products    
Crackers, all varieties, salted 30 g 192-335
Bread roll (rye, french) 1 roll (35 g) 231-321
Bread, all types 1 slice (35 g) 228-238
Muffin (carrot, blueberry, chocolate chip) 1 small (66 g) 203-232
Soda crackers, unsalted 10 (30 g) 230
Bagel, all varieties ½ bagel (45 g) 199-226
Milk and Alternatives
Buttermilk 250 mL (1 cup) 223-272
Cottage cheese (1%, 2%) 250 mL (1 cup) 788-970
Blue 50 g (1 ½ oz) 698-904
Processed cheese slices (cheddar, Swiss) 50 g (1 ½ oz) 685-794
Feta 50 g (1 ½ oz) 558
Cheese spread 30 mL (2 Tbsp) 491-503
Cheddar, colby, edam, gouda, mozzarella, provolone, camembert 50 g (1 ½ oz) 208-482
Cottage cheese, fat free 250 mL (1 cup) 287
Meat and Alternatives Fresh and unprocessed frozen meat, poultry and fish contain very little sodium. Bagged dried peas, beans and lentils contain little sodium
Bacon, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 1555-1920
Bacon (back bacon/peameal, English style bacon), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 982-1160
Ham, cured, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 621-1125
Beef jerky 75 g (2 ½ oz) 976
Corned beef, canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 754
Ham, reduced sodium, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 727

Source: Dietitians of Canada

How much sodium per day to lose weight?

To be clear, cutting down on salt won’t directly lead to weight loss. However, many processed foods and restaurant dishes have a lot of salt, as well as calories from fat. By actively cutting down salt through a reduction of processed foods and cutting down on restaurant meals (or by making better choices), there is also a dramatic reduction in calories and fat intake. To reiterate, the answer to “How much sodium per day for weight loss,” it is the reduction in total calories that causes weight loss, not actually the reduction in salt.

How much sodium per day is too much?

According to Health Canada, healthy adults need only 1500 mg of sodium each day. People aged 14 and over should eat no more than 2300 mg of sodium each day. This is known as the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). A sodium intake above 2300 mg a day is likely to present a health risk. *See table below for exact figures.

How much sodium per day is healthy for kids and infants?

According to Health Canada, the amount of sodium we need each day is based on our life-stage.

Healthy… should aim for the Adequate Intake (AI) of Sodium without going over the Upper Limit (UL) of
Infants 0-6 months 120 mg/day No data
Infants 7-12 months 370 mg/day No data
Children 1-3 years 1000 mg/day 1500 mg/day
Children 4-8 years 1200 mg/day 1900 mg/day
Teens 9-13 years 1500 mg/day 2200 mg/day
Adults 14-50 years 1500 mg/day 2300 mg/day
Older adults 51-70 years 1300 mg/day
Older adults over 70 years 1200 mg/day
Pregnancy 1500 mg/day


Adequate Intake (AI) is the recommended average daily nutrient intake level based on observed or experimentally determined approximations or estimates of nutrient intake by a group (or groups) of apparently healthy people who are assumed to be maintaining an adequate nutritional state. The AI is expected to meet or exceed the needs of most individuals in a specific life-stage and gender group.

Upper Limit (UL) is also known as Tolerable Upper Intake Level. The UL is the highest average daily nutrient intake level likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in a given-life-stage and gender group. The UL is NOT a recommended level of intake. As intake increases above the UL, the potential risk of adverse effects increases.

Health Check Symbol – What Does it Mean?

The Health Check symbol is a not-for-profit, voluntary program created by the Heart and Stroke Foundation to help Canadians eat healthier at restaurants and shop smarter by making heart healthy choices. Specifically, the Health Check symbol indicates the following sodium standards have been met.

Food Product Current Health Check criteria New criteria effective Nov. 2010
Breads 480 mg or less 360 mg or less
Cereals 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Vegetables 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Canned tomato and vegetable juices and blends 650 mg or less 480 mg or less
Milk 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Yogurt 480 mg or less 140 mg or less
Cheese and cheese products 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Meats (including packaged deli meats, ground meat, canned meat, meatballs, sausages, burgers) 480 mg or less 360 mg or less
480 mg or less
480 mg or less
140 mg or less
240 mg or less
Canned soups 650 mg or less 480 mg or less
Dinner Entrees or mixed dishes 720 mg or less 720 mg or less

How Much Weight Should I Gain During Pregnancy?

pregnancy weight gain

Let’s be honest. Weight gain is not the most popular topic for discussion. Most people (not just women!) are usually complaining about their weight rather than beaming with joy that they’ve gained a few pounds. However, when it comes to having a healthy pregnancy, gaining weight is essential to helping your baby grow and develop. Weight gain during pregnancy also prepares you for breastfeeding.

How Much Weight Should I Gain?

Good question. The amount of weight you should gain depends on your body weight before you became pregnant, as well as your height. Your pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of your weight (in kilograms) divided by your height (in meters) squared.

Unit Conversions:

  • 1 inch = 2.54 centimeters
  • 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds

Example) A female who is 5 foot 7 inches tall and 120 pounds before her pregnancy.

  • 5 foot 7 inches = 67 inches, multiplied by 2.54 equals to 170 cm or 1.7 m
  • 1.7 meters squared (i.e. 1.7 times 1.7) equals 2.89 meters squared
  • 120 pounds divided by 2.2 equals to 54.5 kg
  • BMI = 54.5 kg divided by 2.89 meters squared = 18.9

Pre-Pregnancy BMI Categories

  • Underweight (BMI less than 18.5)
  • Healthy Weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9)
  • Overweight (BMI 25.0 to 29.9)
  • Obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30)

Recommended Total Weight Gain During Pregnancy

The following figures are based on your pre-pregnancy BMI category.

  • Underweight – 12.5 to 18 kg (28 to 40 pounds)
  • Healthy Weight – 11.5 to 16 kg (25 to 35 pounds)
  • Overweight – 7 to 11.5 kg (15 to 25 pounds)
  • Obese – 5.0 to 9.0 kg (11 to 20 pounds)

Keep in mind that if you’ve lost any weight during your pregnancy, you need to “catch up” on your weight gain so you gain the suggested amount for your associated category. For example, if your pre-pregnancy weight is 120 pounds and that placed you in the Healthy Weight category, then you must gain 25-35 pounds total. Your final weight at time of delivery should then be 145 to 150 pounds (120 pounds + 25 to 35 pounds). If you lost weight during your pregnancy, your goal weight is still 145 to 150 pounds by the time you deliver, which hopefully is at 40 weeks for a full term baby.

Weekly Weight Gain After First 12 Weeks

  • Underweight – 0.5 kg (1.1 pounds)
  • Healthy Weight – 0.4 kg (0.88 pounds)
  • Overweight – 0.3 kg (0.66 pounds)
  • Obese -0.2 kg (0.44 pounds)

During the first trimester (first 12 weeks) of baby’s life, weight gain is generally only about 0.5 to 2.0 kg (1.1 to 4.4 pounds) total. This amount is already included in the recommended total weight gain values listed above.

Mommy To Be Example

  • Angel’s pre-pregnancy height is 170 cm and 120 pounds.
  • She calculated her pre-pregnancy BMI to be 18.9, which means she falls into the Healthy Weight category.
  • Her recommended weight gain is 11.5 to 16 kg (25 to 35 pounds).
  • During her first trimester, she gained 1 kg (0.45 pounds).
  • Her weekly weight gain after her first trimester was 0.4 kg (0.88 pounds).
  • Angel’s total weight gain at 40 weeks is 12.2 kg (26.8 pounds).

Where Does All the Weight Go?

  • Baby – about 27%
  • Extra blood, fluids and protein – about 27%
  • Breasts and energy stores – about 23%
  • Uterus – about 7.7%
  • Placenta – about 7.7%
  • Amniotic fluid – about 7.7%

In the example with Angel above, her total weight gain of 12.2 kg (26.8 pounds) is divided into:

  • Baby – about 27% (3.3 kg or 7 pounds)
  • Extra blood, fluids and protein – about 27% (3.3 kg or 7 pounds)
  • Breasts and energy stores – about 23% (2.8 kg or 6 pounds)
  • Uterus – about 7.7% (0.9 kg or 2 pounds)
  • Placenta – about 7.7% (0.9 kg or 2 pounds)
  • Amniotic fluid – about 7.7% (0.9 kg or 2 pounds)

How Do I Gain Enough Weight?

Gaining a healthy amount of weight helps your baby have a healthy start in life and can also improve your long term health. Healthy weight gain also reduces your risk of complications during pregnancy and at delivery. To ensure you gain a healthy amount of weight during your pregnancy, you don’t need to eat a lot more enough. It’s a common misconception that pregnant women have a free pass to eating whatever they want as well as have large portions since they’re “eating for two.” On the contrary, one extra snack per day (such as a apple or pear with a small piece of cheese about 1.5 ounces or 50 grams) is often enough to promote healthy weight gain.


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Is it Okay to Use Protein Powder?


Before I answer the question, allow me to start off by saying that I strongly believe in getting our nutrients from natural food sources as much as possible. Our bodies require energy from three macronutrients, namely carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Protein provides both calories and amino acids to help build and repair muscles and is an essential part of our daily nutrition. There are excellent protein food sources including lean chicken, beef, pork, turkey, fish, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, soy-based vegetable protein, nut butters, eggs, milk, yogurt, and cheese.


Most people eat way more protein in a day than Canada Food Guide’s recommended 2-3 servings meat and alternatives and 2-3 servings of milk and alternatives for adults aged 19 years and older. However, there are reasons why someone may not being getting enough protein:

  • Too busy to prioritize meal planning and grocery shopping for healthy protein foods
  • Work schedule impacting eating habits causing skipped and missed meals
  • Those struggling with low appetite due to illness or chronic disease
  • Cancer patients dealing with side effects of chemotherapy, radiation therapy or both
  • People who experience low appetite from intense physical training and exercise


In such cases, protein supplements can come in handy because of its versatility. Flavorless protein powders as as Beneprotein can be added to sweet and savory food and drinks both hot and cold, making it a good “Plan B” kind of pantry item for those who struggle to get enough protein from food sources alone. For those who prefer to make smoothies and shakes for a quick “meal on the go,” flavored protein powders may be preferred unless you dislike the conventional choices of chocolate, strawberry or vanilla. This is especially true for you deal hunters out there. Buying bulk protein powder is going to be your best bet since it has a long shelf life when kept in a cool dry location, and it stretches much further than buying meal replacement drinks sold in 4 or 6 packs.


But what is the best protein powder? What’s the difference between cheap protein powder vs expensive? Is cheap protein powder in bulk form okay to use? Forget the price tag of the protein supplement for a second (okay maybe 5 minutes) and just focus on the ingredients to help you make a decision:


Protein Source – Whey versus Soy

Research shows that animal proteins result in greater gains in muscle mass and strength when compared againt protein from plant sources. Whey protein is an animal protein derived from milk. Whey protein is considered a complete protein because it contains all nine of the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make on its own. It is also fast acting and easily absorbed by the body which may improve muscle recovery post work out.


Soy is the only plant based protein that is considered complete and offers unique benefits including being low in saturated fat, and high in antioxidants. It has cholesterol lowering effects and a positive influence on heart health. It’s also a great alternative to animal protein supplements for vegetarian or vegan athletes.


How Much Protein?

For everyday people who exercise about 30 minutes a day, an adequate amount of protein would be about 0.8-1.0grams/kg body weight/day. (Note: 1 kilogram equals 2.2 pounds) For adults that are very physically active, protein needs are only slightly elevated. Recommended protein intakes for endurance athletes is 1.2.-1.4g/kg/day and for strength/resistance training athletes is 1.5-1.7g/kg/day.


For example: 60 kilogram male or female

30 minutes of exercise per day: 0.8-1.0g/kg body weight equals 48 to 60 grams protein per day

Endurance athlete: 1.2-1.4g/kg body weight equals 72 to 84 grams protein per day

Strength or resistance athlete: 1.5-1.7g/kg body weight equals 90 to 102 grams protein per day


How much protein is in common foods?




Grams of Protein

Animal Sources    
Beef, lamb, pork or veal, or poultry, cooked 3 ounces (90 grams) 25


Eggs, large 2 eggs 12
Canned Fish (170g net weight, 120g drained) ½ can 14
Fish and Shellfish, cooked 3 ounces (90 grams) 18
Vegetarian Sources    
Lentils, beans or peas 1 cup cooked 15
Peanut butter 2 tablespoons (30mL) 10
Tofu (regular curd) ½ cup (125 grams) 10
Soy milk 1 cup (250mL) 7
Nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnut, and pistachios) ¼ cup (1 ounce) 6
Seeds (pumpkin, squash, sesame, and sunflower) ¼ cup (1 ounce) 7
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans), cooked 1 cup (250mL) 15
Milk & Alternatives    
Cheese hard 1 ounce (28 grams) 7
Cottage cheese & ricotta ½ cup ( 115 grams) 14
Milk (skim, 1%, 2%, whole or chocolate) 1 cup (250mL) 8
Pudding (made with milk) ½ cup (125mL) 4
Yogurt ¾ cup (175 grams) 6
Skim milk powder 2 tablespoons (30mL) 5
Grain Products    
Cream of wheat 1 cup (250mL) 4
Oatmeal ¾ cup (188mL) 4
Bagel, 3 ½ inch diameter 1 7
Bread 1 slice 2
Pasta, cooked 1 cup (250mL) 7
Pita, 6 ½ inch diameter 1 6
Rice, cooked 1 cup 6


Helpful Hints:

  • 3 ounces (90 grams) of cooked meat is about the size of a deck of cards


Keep in mind that the increased amount of protein for athletes can easily be met through food with careful planning of meals and snacks. For those who struggle with getting enough protein through food, figure out how much protein you’re taking in a typical day, and supplement the difference with protein powder. More protein in not always better, so don’t overdo it unless you have a medical reason to do so.


So the question should no longer be “where can I find cheap protein powder online” or is “wholesale protein powder” okay? Rather, start asking how can I get enough protein through food sources. If not, then ask whether the protein powder you’re buying has the type of protein in the amounts needed to supplement your food intake? If yes, and it’s cheap? GREAT.


Bottom line: Food First, then Supplement if needed.