Starbucks Lunches and Treats

Chicken and Hummus Bistro Box
A few days ago I wrote a post about the breakfast options at Starbucks, but now I want to discuss the other food options that Starbucks has to offer. Sometimes when you are in a pinch or when you need your mid-day coffee to wake yourself up, Starbucks food is all you have to choose from. After looking over some of the nutritional information that Starbucks has to offer, I have found the good, the bad, and the ugly of what to have at Starbucks.

BISTRO BOXES
Yes – Chicken & Hummus Bistro Box
No – Protein Bistro Box, Cheese & Fruit Bistro Box

The Chicken and Hummus Bistro Box that Starbucks has to offer is actually a pretty good choice when you are really in the need for something quick and healthy. Although I would not recommend it if you are really in the mood for a meal since it only has 260 calories, it only has 7g of fat (1g of saturated fat), 25g of carbs, 5g of fiber, 2g of sugar, and 20g of protein. It seems to be a pretty well balanced snack with a lot of good attributes. I would steer away from the Protein Bistro box mainly because it has 19g of fat and only 13g of protein. I would expect the “Protein” box to have the most protein of all the bistro boxes, but it actually has 7g less than the Chicken and Hummus box. I would also stay away from the Fruit & Cheese Bistro Box mainly because of its high fat content. This one box has 480 calories, 250 of which are from fat (28g of total fat, 10g of saturated fat, 0.5g of trans fat). One other box Starbucks offers is the Goat Cheese & Garden Veggies Bistro Box. This isn’t a horrible choice since it only has 220 calories and 10g of fat, but I still would suggest going with the Chicken & Hummus Bistro Box over the Goat Cheese & Garden Veggies Bistro Box.

PANINIS & SANDWICHES
No – Egg Salad Sandwich, Roasted Tomato & Mozzarella Panini
Starbucks offers a variety of Paninis and Sandwiches. I would not highly suggest purchasing any of these choices unless you really are in need of some more filling food. The Paninis and Sandwiches range from 340-460 calories, 10-27g of fat, 630-1140mg of sodium, 35-47g of carbs, and 15-33g of protein. The choices I would strongly stay away from would be the Egg Salad Sandwich and the Roasted Tomato & Mozzarella Panini. The Egg Salad Sandwich has 460 calories, 240 of which are from fat (27g of fat) and 22g of protein and the Roasted Tomato & Mozzarella Panini is 390 calories, 160 of which are from fat (18g of fat) and 15g of protein. All of the other sandwich choices are a little more reasonable with less fat content and higher amounts of protein.

Marshmallow Dream Bar

ALL DAY SNACKS/BAKED GOODS
None except the Marshmallow Dream Bar if you need a treat.
Starbucks offers many different Loaves, Coffee Cakes, brownies, Cookies, Cake Pops, and Bars. Now although these may be tempting, you have to realize that none of these choices are actually good for you. It would be much better to get real food with high nutritional value than a Double Chocolate Brownie with 24g of fat. Even a Birthday Cake Pop, which literally can be eaten in one big bite has 170 calories, 9g of fat, 22g of carbs, and 18g of sugar. Is that worth it?
Now some of you may be saying, “But Starbucks has Reduced-Fat Options!” Now this may be true, but the Reduced-Fat Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, Very Berry Coffee Cake, and Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake still have 8-10g of fat, 59-80g of carbs, and 31-50g of sugar. With that said, I personally don’t think these options are worth it because the nutritional value just does not weigh out the flaws.
The one treat I do say it is ok to have, on a VERY RARE occasion, would be the Marshmallow Dream Bar. Why? The Marshmallow Dream bar does not have much nutritional value at all, but it also has the least detrimental effects as well. The Dream Bar only has 210 calories, 4g of fat, 43g of carbs, and 15g of sugar. If you MUST get a treat, go with this choice above all the backed goods.

Hope you find this post helpful for the next time you need to eat at Starbucks! Any questions or concerns? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Forming Healthy Diet Habits and My Diet Challenge

Alec Gym Post 2
As I have said in previous posts, diets SUCK! I still wish I could eat whatever I wanted and still be as healthy and fit as possible, but unfortunately that is not how the world works. I have learned through experience; however, that diets can also be a lot better than you think… It really comes down to how your prepare yourself for your diet.

How many of you have tried starting a diet, and then eventually given up? I will admit that I have… numerous times. I have talked to countless people who have started crash diets and put in a ton of effort to eat well and exercise regularly, but most of these people end up reverting back to their old ways. My big question is WHY? We know we want to look and feel better; we are willing to put in the effort; we are even able to stay on a pretty strict diet for some time. Why then do so many people end up reverting back to their old eating habits?

I got to thinking, and although this is totally based on my personal experience, views and observations, I ask you to just be open minded and dare you to try what I am about to suggest. I believe people don’t succeed on crash diets, because although they want to lead a healthy lifestyle, they jumped right into a diet with little to no preparation. Your body and mind sometimes need to warm-up to an idea in order to really make it work and become a habit. For example, if you had never been swimming before, why would you jump into the deep end of the pool and hope for the best? Surely, many people would come close to drowning. This is the same for diets. If you are so used to eating one way, and all of a sudden change everything you are doing, your body and mind are honestly not ready for the change, leaving you with uncontrollable cravings and needs.
Think about the last diet and exercise plan you tried. Is this what happened to you?

Right now, after about 2 years of constantly working on improving my diet and exercise routine, I can say that I have formed some strong views and habits that have helped shape a healthier lifestyle. Before I started really working on creating this lifestyle, I would go to the gym, maybe twice a week, if that, and I would honestly eat anything I wanted (I would eat fast food and unhealthy foods at restaurants all the time). Now, if I don’t work out for more than 2 days, my body literally feels sluggish and almost sickly and although I hardly ever even want to go near a fast food place anymore, if I even attempt to eat fast food, my stomach almost immediately rejects it. How have I been able to create such habits while I see other people stopping in my local Wendy’s every day?

Donuts

After doing some research of how to form habits, I tried to determine on how long it actually takes to create a lasting habit such as eating healthy. Although some researchers say 21 days is all you need, most psychologists cannot actually put a number on how long it takes. They all seem to agree that different habits obviously take different amounts of time to form. From what I read, I concluded that the smaller the change from someone’s current lifestyle, the less time it takes to actually become a habit that the person will eventually not have to intentionally think about doing. A small change in someone’s lifestyle, such as drinking one more glass of water a day, can take two-three weeks to become a habit. A much larger change in someone’s life, such as going to the gym five days a week, can take hundreds of days to actually become a habit.

After realizing this, I remembered the first diet I ever tried that actually worked for me, that I still unintentionally follow today. It worked because it was a small change from what I was already doing, which made it easy for my body to adapt and form a long lasting habit. I made this little diet up myself in my head one day, but it has helped train my mind and my body to really create healthier eating habits and also prepare me for future diets I was going to try.

HERE IS MY DIET CHALLENGE (aka the first diet that worked for me):
Pick one food that you eat regularly (at least twice a month), that you know is bad for you, that you could live without. Some examples of foods would be french fries, pizza, ice cream, bacon, cake, etc. For me, it was doughnuts. Now totally delete this one food from your diet. I am only asking you to pick ONE food. Whenever you are tempted to eat this food now, just simply say no, or replace it with something much healthier. That’s it! I know it sounds so stupid and easy, but trust me, it will help you in the long run with making healthier choices and help you adapt to other diets in the future. To put it into perspective, I used to eat about 2 Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts from Dunkin Donuts a week . I liked eating them, obviously, but I realized I ate them usually out of convenience rather than out of a craving I was having or out of a need. Without eating these 2 doughnuts each week, I saved myself 540 calories and 30g of fat (14g of saturated fat) per week… that’s 28,080 calories and 1,560g of fat (728g of saturated fat) a year. To burn that off, I would have to run for about 35 hours… and I hate running :(. From this diet, I have not had one doughnut for over four years, and now I honestly have no cravings or wants to even try a doughnut again. Right now I am attempting this diet with waffles, and so far, I have gone almost three weeks without eating one waffle, which has saved me bad calories, fat, and a lot of carbs.

So now, I challenge you to try this easy diet out. It is easy! All I am asking you to do is pick one food that you can live without. If you can make it through one month without having this food in your diet, you should be able to start forming healthier habits. NO CHEATING!!!

What are your thoughts on this post? Are you going to try my challenge? Let me know by emailing me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

PB2 – Powdered Peanut Butter

PB2 - 1
I have been hearing a lot about this product called PB2. PB2 is a Powdered Peanut Butter that has less calories and fat than regular peanut butter. I was definitely curious to see what it tasted like, but to my surprise it was better than what I expected. Here are my thoughts on PB2…

Why PB2? What makes PB2 better than Peanut Butter?
PB2 offers a much lighter version of peanut butter to people. As you may notice, there is a lot of fat in Peanut Butter. Although in organic peanut butter, most of the fat is considered good fat, many dieters still steer away from having it. PB2 is only 45 calories and has 1.5g of fat (It also has 94mg of sodium, 5g of carbs, 2g of fiber, 1g of sugar, and 5g of protein). With lower calories and fat content, PB2 can be a very nice alternative to dieters everywhere.

How is PB2 made? Is it made with bad chemicals or highly processed foods?
PB2 is made by pressing out most of the oils and fats from roasted peanuts. This pressing process then leaves a powdered substance. This powder is then mixed with salt and sugar to create PB2. It is as simple as that… just 3 ingredients.

Do you just eat the powder? What do you do with it?
For one serving, you mix 2 tbsp of the PB2 powder with 1 tbsp of water. It mixes pretty easily together, but you may need to add a little more water if all the powder doesn’t mix in well enough. After stirring for a few seconds, it takes on a consistency similar to that of regular creamy peanut butter. If you would like to mix the powder in something, for instance a smoothie, you can just toss the powder directly into the blender and not worry about mixing it with water beforehand.

PB2 - 2

How does it taste?
I definitely would not say that it tasted bad, but it doesn’t taste as good as regular peanut butter. It is not the type of thing you would just eat on its own. As long as you are eating it with something, like a banana, toast, or anything else, PB2 tastes just fine.

Who would I recommend PB2 for?
I would recommend PB2 to anybody, but specifically to dieters who are very calorie and fat conscious. I personally think that I will still stick to organic peanut butter because I am not trying to lose any weight (in fact I want to try putting on a few more pounds). Organic peanut butter offers a few more grams of protein, fiber, and significantly much more fat and calories which is good for someone who is trying to bulk or keep weight on. PB2 is perfect for someone who needs to get his/her peanut butter fix, but does not want to feel guilty about eating it.

Hope you like this food review. Have any questions? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com 🙂

Diet Tip #1: How to Set Good Goals

Alec Varcas Diet Tips 1Lets face it… DIETS SUCK! No one really likes going on a diet. We all wish that we can eat whatever we wanted and still maintain amazing bodies. Unfortunately that is not how the world works and we have to watch what we eat, not only to look good, but also to lead a healthy lifestyle.

After doing some research, it is estimated that about 80% of weight loss New Years Resolutions fail. There are many theories as to why, but I have suggestions on how to reach your goals and not be part of that 80%.

My First Suggestion: Don’t say your goal is “To lose weight!”
You are already setting yourself up for failure because you are really not giving yourself a defined goal. Losing a pound and losing 30 pounds is a big difference, but technically in both situations, you have lost weight. You need to give yourself something to really aim for. For example, a good goal to set would be, I want to lose 15 pounds in 90 days. With this you have set a real goal and something to really aim for. This will put your mind in the right place to achieve success.

Alec Varcas Diet Tips 1-2

My Second Suggestion: Don’t set a goal that is too far in the future.
Setting a weight loss goal a year from now is not as affective as setting one two months from now. Why? If you have a goal to reach in ten months, you are more likely going to forget about it and make some bad diet and exercise choices than if you have a goal to reach in 2 weeks. If you would like to set a big goal, such as losing 50 pounds by the end of the year, or being able to bench press 100 more pounds by the end of the year, that is fine, but you must achieve those goals by setting smaller more frequent ones in between (ex: I will lose 5 pounds this month, I will bench press 10 more pounds this month)

My Third Suggestion: Don’t wait until January 1st to start a new goal.
According to an article by John Norcross that was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, approximately 50% of Americans make New Years Resolutions. I hate New Years Resolutions because it gives people an excuse to slack off until January 1st. If you want to be healthy and fit, START NOW! There is no better time to start. You are not getting any younger and you are just wasting time if you are putting it off for a specific date. Being healthy is a lifestyle, not a goal to reach! So start making better decisions now and you will be able to maintain a healthier lifestyle in the future.

Any questions or concerns? Want to know more about this topic? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com