Ways to make healthy eating affordable

Mark Dziuban, affordable healthy eating

A healthy lifestyle is a commitment in many ways, as it requires a fair amount of discipline, will power, and accountability. Making changes to your daily routine can be difficult at times, but these challenges are what will ultimately shape you (maybe figuratively and literally) into a fitter, happier individual.

Where dieting is concerned, one consistent challenge is the price of eating healthier meals on a regular basis. Healthy foods can, at times, reach lofty prices — regardless of where you are shopping. However, there several under-utilized, if not entirely overlooked techniques that can be adopted to make healthy eating less of a financial burden. Here are three easy ways to make healthy eating more affordable.


Change your way of thinking

You must possess the proper mindset if you are going to pursue a healthier diet, and this includes the financial end of this pursuit. It is no secret that many Americans resort to fast food, unhealthy frozen meals, and other quick answers to daily meals in an attempt to balance both their time and budget. A big step towards healthier living is coming to the realization that not all healthy meals require large amounts of time and money — you must break away from the conditioned association of unhealthy meal options and affordability. Once you have reached this point, you will be able to better focus on “good deals” that are also good for you.


Make a meal plan

If you are concerned about how healthy meals will impact your budget on a long term scale, it is wise to plan out your meals in advance. Use Sundays to make a meal list for the upcoming week, basing the list off of a predetermined meal budget. Estimate how much each meal will cost and use these figures to balance your plan to your liking. You can never have too much foresight in this field, and keeping these habits will give you a better natural perception of the meals you can and cannot make on a regular basis. Plus, if nothing else, a meal plan will add another component to your organization throughout a busy work week.


Relish the leftovers

Do not be afraid to make too much of a healthy meal — unless you are extremely picky about repeating specific courses, you may be able to use meal leftovers to get you through multiple days of eating, saving more money in the process. This way, you will at least ensure that you are eating something you know is healthy while saving time otherwise spent on new meal preparations. Additionally, you can use leftovers to craft other healthy dishes (stir frys, salads, and burritos, for example).

The best apps for dieting

Mark Dzuiban, dieting apps

Dieting can be difficult. For many people, a total change in eating habits can take a lot of time and effort as they strengthen their willpower and overall discipline.

Luckily, modern diets can be complemented by a variety of supplemental resources that aid dieters toward their goals. Dieting apps now stand as an obvious technological advantage for dieters owning a smartphone or other app-ready device.

Here are some of the best dieting apps (for both iphone and android).



Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal app is a go-to resource for nearly every type of dieter (though it is generally marketed towards those who are also active). The app allows users to easily enter foods and beverages they have eaten throughout the day to keep track of calories and crucial macronutrients (proteins, fats, sugars, etc.). The app then stacks these numbers up to predetermined calorie and macro totals based on your unique body type (weight, height) and your lifestyle (very active, moderately active). Additionally, the app is able to factor in calories burned during physical activities, which can also be logged in a similar manner.


Diet Point – Weight Loss

Diet Point – Weight Loss is a handy dieting app that provides users with over 130 different diet plans, each tailored to a different lifestyle and starting point. This wide set of options gives users the convenience of avoiding guesswork in terms of figuring out how to get started. Furthermore, users can enjoy close to 500 preloaded tips to improve their individual weight loss plans and achieve their goals. The app also comes with a BMI calculator, which always serves as a helpful tracking resource for those dedicated to losing weight.


My Diet Coach

My Diet Coach is aimed primarily at women, but it features a motivation-heavy theme focused on inspiring users to continuously reach for their weight goals. A big staple of the app is its reminder feature, which allows users to set daily reminders personalized to your regular dieting needs or responsibilities (users can set alarms to drink more water or prepare a healthy lunch, for example). Other helpful features include a diet diary, a motivational photo album, and a list of perseverance tips.


Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers has existed as a dieting resource for many years now, and its mobile app is a testament to its continued relevance amongst dieters nationwide. The app follows Weight Watchers classic “PointsPlus” system, which goes beyond typical dieting management by grading users through a points system (rather than through calorie counting alone). The app does require a paid subscription after prolonged use, but with a variety of food and weight tracking features and a 24/7 chat option that links users to weight coaches, your money will be well spent.


Exploring popular superfoods

Mark Dziuban

Throughout your dietary endeavors, you have probably come across the term “superfood.” This term is a bit ambiguous in a way; clearly it has a positive connotation, but why?

In reality, “superfood” is a marketing term used to refer to foods that present nutritional benefits. While the term is pretty broad in its most basic meaning, the foods it encompasses do consistently prove to be healthy for a variety of reasons.

Here are some of the most popular superfoods, and the reasons they are seen as smart eating choices.



While most nuts are known for providing a variety of nutritional benefits, almonds are consistently found to be one of the most nutritionally dense nuts on the market, offering the “highest concentration of nutrients per calorie” of any nut, according to Greatist.com. Additionally, almonds are found to be high in potassium, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium.


Watermelon seeds

Watermelon itself is sometimes grouped in the superfood category, but the fruit’s seeds appear to be what has the most nutrients. Seeds are commonly spit out or thrown away in favor of the sweet, juicy parts of the melon, but you should refrain from following this approach, as the seeds are found to provide magnesium, amino acids, good fats, iron, zinc, and B vitamins, among other important nutrients (according to Rawguru.com).



Avocados are unique in a lot of ways, from their distinguishable shape to their specific nutritional value. One characteristic that sets avocados aside from most fruits is that they are high in good fats, whereas most fruits are rich in carbohydrates and low in fat. They also provide 20 different vitamins and minerals, including vitamins K and C, and actually contain more potassium than bananas.



The nutritional value of eggs has been debated for a long time, but the latest verdict is that their health benefits outweigh their potential flaws (they are high in cholesterol, but are not found to negatively impact blood cholesterol levels). According to AuthorityNutrition, a single large boiled egg contains a reasonable percentage of vitamin A, phosphorus, selenium, and folate, in addition to a variety of other vitamins and minerals. Eggs are also loaded with protein, healthy fat, and omega-3s (the latter depending on how the eggs are prepared and enriched prior to being sold).



An occasionally overlooked fruit, kiwis are loaded with antioxidants. They are found to bring a variety of unique and interesting health benefits to the table, ranging from aiding in digestion to serving as a light sleep inducer. Factor in high amounts of fiber and vitamin C and you are left with a fruit that truly lives up to “super” status.

Let’s lose some fat

You’ve heard the advertisements on TV and have read the ads in your favorite magazines, “Use our product and turn your unwanted body fat into muscle.” Sounds easy and simple doesn’t it? Here’s a fact, it can’t be done-it’s just that simple. Fat can never be converted into muscle. In order to achieve the “turn fat into muscle look” you must lose the fat and build your muscle. So, let’s lose some fat.

Glucose, or sugars, are our bodies only source of energy. We can not change that, our bodies need sugar to expend energy. What is in our control however is where our bodies pull that energy from. Carbohydrates are sugars. If we eat too much food in the form of carbohydrates, our body naturally converts excess carbohydrates into triglycerides which get stored in our adipose fat tissues for future requirements. So, if you continue to eat, and not expend enough energy to meet your food intake, into the “ole storage bin” those excess triglycerides go. If you’re like me, that’s right to your midsection.

Our bodies hold a supply of glucose, ready for immediate use in our bloodstream and in our liver. When we exercise and elevate our heart rate above 50% of our maximum heart rate, (MHR), our bodies burn the glucose that is the easiest to get to, the glucose in our bloodstream and liver. Slow your heart rate down and your body will go to your adipose fat tissue and convert your stored triglycerides back into usable glucose. If you exercise at a heart rate below 50% of your MHR, you will “burn fat”-it’s that simple. SLOW DOWN and “burn fat”.

So, let’s find where the ideal heart rate range is so you can monitor your heart rate while performing low level, or steady state aerobics.. We’ll need to calculate your maximum heart rate, (MHR), and your resting heart rate, (RHR). Calculating your MHR is quite simple using this formula:

208-(0.7 x age) = MHR. So a 42 year old would simply calculate as follows:

208-(0.7 x 42) = MHR, 208-29.4 = 178.6, let’s round up to 179 beats per minute, (BPM).

Now that we know your MHR let’sget your RHR. The best time of the day to check your RHR is before you get out of bed in the morning. Simply find your pulse, count for 15 seconds and multiply by 4. Let’s say you came up with 60 BPM. Now we have all the information we need to calculate 50% of your MHR.

((MHR-RHR)/2) + RHR = 50% of MHR
((179-60)/2) + 60 = 50% of MHR
(119/2) + 60 = 50% of MHR
60 + 60 = 120.

Now, per this example, if you were to exercise while keeping your heart rate below 120 BPM, you will convert “fat”, (in the form of triglycerides), back into usable energy or blood glucose.

Be patient, once your body realizes your heart rate has increased it will immediately begin to use your blood glucose but after 15-20 minutes of maintaining an exercise heart rate below 120, your body will begin to convert stored triglycerides back into a usable energy source.

So, go exercise and keep your heart rate down! You’ll finally lose that unwanted fat easier and faster than if you exercised harder!!!

Remember, “If you want it, you’ve got to go get it!”

3 Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet

There has been a stigma around dietary fats as long as humans have been studying nutrition. Whether it was the realization that fats contain more calories per gram than carbs and protein in the 50s, or the influence companies had on advertising in the 70s, people have been scared to eat fat. Science has come a long way in the last 60 years, and we are finding that a diet high in fat is actually beneficial and quite healthy for most humans. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that is designed to put the body in a state of ketogenesis. A ketogenic diet, just like all diets, is not for everyone, but if you are able to try it, you will experience the following benefits.

Appetite Suppression

Most people site hunger as one of the main reasons that led them to give up on their diet. The majority of diets people try do not allow them to eat enough food, which results in them always being hungry. The Ketogenic diet has been a proven appetite suppressant, and it is mainly due to the low-carb aspect of the diet. When you ingest sugars (carbs), your body will constantly crave more sugar. By eliminating that from your diet, your body will be able to run more efficiently without telling you it is hungry every hour.

Eating More Fat Leads to Fat Loss

Yes, you heard that right. The age old belief of cutting fat from your diet will cut fat from your midsection is just not true. The reason people have trouble losing bodily fat is because they’re misinformed on how that fat is stored. Your body stores excess carbs as fat when you do not use them as fuel, and as you eat more carbs, you will first need to use what you just consumed before you can tap into your fat stores. If you eliminate those carbs from your diet, your body will begin converting stored fat to fuel, which will leave you looking leaner and feeling better.

More Energy

One thing almost everyone who goes keto notices pretty early on in the diet is drastically increased energy. Your body is not working nearly as hard to break down sugars, and it will leave you with long-lasting energy all day. Along with more energy throughout the day, most people have shown drastic changes to their sleep patterns. That 2 PM grogginess at your desk will disappear within the first week of switching over to keto, too.

If you are interested in exploring a new diet, you may find that going keto has all of the benefits you are looking for. It’s not difficult to make the switch, and you’ll find it’s easy an easy diet to maintain. Trying it out for a few weeks could end up leading to you making a lifestyle change and going keto for the long run.

How to Prepare for an Adventure Race

Adventure races are quickly becoming a bucket list item for many outdoor enthusiasts across the country. The races resemble a triathlon with tweaks to the woods to add the element of nature into the mix. The most common adventure races include three events: Trail running, mountain biking, and kayaking. Whether you are a seasoned triathlete or this is your first multi-event race, there are steps to take to make sure you have a successful first adventure race.

Start Small

Adventure races are hard, and there is no way around that. Don’t jump into something overwhelming for your first race. There are sprint adventure races with shorter stages that still give you the satisfaction of completing the race without requiring you to train like an olympic athlete. Find a few shorter races to find out what works best for you in terms of events and length. Once you are comfortable with those races, it may be time for you to move on to longer events and multi-day races.

Train Smarter, Not Harder

Don’t confuse the title as an excuse to just cruise through your training plan without pushing yourself. You need to push yourself, but there is a point of diminishing returns. The days of training to exhaustion daily are behind us, and there is plenty of research that shows recovery is just as important as hard training days are. There are plenty of training plans for triathlons, and they can easily be adapted to your adventure race. Find something that’s tailored to a race around the same length as yours and stick to it.

Get Comfortable with your Equipment

One of the biggest issues most people have with their first adventure race is a lack of familiarity with their kayak or mountain bike. You will want to spend a few hours per week getting used to them before you start your training program. Make sure you know how to perform trail maintenance on your bike including changing a flat and replacing a chain link. These two issues alone will keep many people from finishing the bike stage.

Learn the Course

Most adventure races will have course maps available online long before the race starts. If it is close to home, take a weekend to explore the course. It will go a long way on race day. If you cannot get to the course before the race you can always find out what trails you will be on and find YouTube videos from the same trail system. There’s a good chance someone rode the route with a GoPro and posted it online.

Adventure races are a great way to experience nature and challenge yourself both physically and mentally. They’re popping up all over the place. If you want to mix your love for the outdoors with your love of fitness, then these races will be perfect for you.

Healthy Substitutes for Guilty Pleasure Foods

Adhering to a strict diet is tough, and many people do not realize how difficult it is to stay the course until they have already committed to it. The benefits of a healthy diet are well documented, but there are always cravings that pop up. By making health-conscious substitutes, it is still possible to enjoy your guilty pleasure foods without neglecting your diet.

Black Beans for Flour in Baking

Most people could benefit from consuming less flour in their diets. If you have any type of gluten insensitivity or are following the Paleo diet like myself, then flour is not an option in your diet. Luckily, black beans make a great flour substitute for baking. Swap out a cup of all-purpose flour for a cup of washed and pureed black beans the next time you are craving brownies. Aside from eliminating the flower, you also add extra grams of protein to the mix.

Spaghetti Squash for Noodles in Pasta

There are plenty of pasta substitutes on shelves in the grocery store, but the best one I’ve found so far is a baked spaghetti squash. Cut the squash in half and spread a layer of oil on the open halves along with some salt and pepper for taste. Lay them open-half up in a baking pan with some water and cover the pan with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until the inside of the squash is easily removed with a fork.

Coconut Oil for Coffee Creamer

Most coffee creamers are packed with sugar and dairy, both of which can be detrimental to your health. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your coffee in the morning and blend it to get a smooth, velvety consistency. Research has also shown that MCTs in the coconut oil help provide longer lasting energy that creamer cannot match.

Avocado for Butter

Someone somewhere had the idea to swap a 1:1 ratio of avocado for butter in baking, and that person should receive a medal. While butter is not awful, it cannot compare to the nutritional benefits of an avocado. Next time you are craving chocolate chip cookies, try swapping out the butter for avocado, and I bet you won’t even taste the difference.

Sticking to a nutritional plan should not make you miserable, and you should be enjoying the foods you are eating. By making these healthy substitutions, you can stay the course and enjoy every meal.

The Many Uses of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has been gaining popularity in the health and wellness world over the past decade due to its seemingly unlimited uses. Originally marketed as a cooking oil, coconut oil has since grown into a universal product that you’ll find in the cupboard of most health-conscious people. While it is still a popular cooking oil, it is also used for much more around the house.

Beauty and Health Uses

Skin Moisturizer

Coconut oil has been proven to be as effective as many store-bought moisturizers without any of the added chemicals or dyes.

Lip Balm

While coconut oil is a great skin moisturizer, it is also an effective lip balm. A thin layer can protect your lips from the cold and wind all winter long.

Oil Pulling

Swishing or “pulling” coconut oil in your mouth has been shown to improve teeth and gum health, eliminate bad breath, stop tooth decay, and kill unwanted bacteria.


Mix coconut oil with baking soda and a drop of peppermint oil to create a gentle toothpaste that will leave your breath fresh all day.


The natural antibacterial properties of coconut oil make it great at fighting body odor. If you don’t like the consistency of an oil as a deodorant, combine it with a little baking soda to thicken it.

Shaving Cream

For many men, including myself, shaving causes a number of problems including razor burn and the occasional ingrown hair. Try a layer of coconut oil after a hot shower as your shaving cream to eliminate those issues.

Shampoo and Conditioner

Coconut oil is a great substitute for an all-in-one shampoo and conditioner. It also works wonders on dandruff!

Cooking Uses

Toast Topper

Instead of spreading butter on the top of your toast, reach for the coconut oil. The consistency and flavor will have you wondering why you never tried it before.

Coffee Creamer

Throw a tablespoon of coconut oil in your coffee in the morning and blend it to create a velvety morning drink that will pack a punch.

Popcorn Dressing

Toss your freshly-popped popcorn in a bowl with coconut oil and a pinch of sea salt for a healthier alternative and a new taste.

Energy Drink

Most sports drinks are jam packed with sugar and unwanted additives. Add coconut oil and some fruit to a glass of water to create a delicious pre-workout drink.

Around the House

Gum Removal

There are plenty of guides online on how to remove gum from the couch or from your hair, and coconut oil is up there as one of the most effective. The oils will break down the gum and make it easier to remove.

Shine Your Shoes

Shoe shining kits can be expensive, and you may only use them once or twice before they sit in your closet collecting dust. Apply a thin layer of coconut oil to your shoes to get them shining while protecting them at the same time.

Slow Dust Accumulation

Speaking of collecting dust, it seems as though dusting is a chore that you could do daily and the dust keeps coming back. Spread some coconut oil on anything made of wood or plastic that collects a lot of dust and let it dry.

The versatility of coconut oil is impressive, and people are finding new uses for it every day. Make sure you find a spot for it in your pantry, in your medicine cabinet, in your broom closet, or all three today.

Total Caloric Expenditure: Part 3-Activity Expenditure

From my previous posts, we have learned the calculation for daily total caloric expenditure. Let’s review:

Total Caloric Expenditure = Resting Metabolic Rate, (RMR), + Thermal Effect of Food + Activity Expenditure.

We learned how to correctly calculate our Resting Metabolic Rate for our current body weight. We could have taken that formula a step further by first calculating our Lean Body Mass, or our body’s lean weight which is comprised of the combined weight of our bones, muscles, organs, and water mass, but we can save that for a future post as it is not entirely necessary to get you started.

We have also learned that our bodies use energy to digest and process the food we eat. Energy, in the form of calories, and how to calculate that.

So now let’s move on and discuss the third and final value of our equation, Activity Expenditure. According to the National Federation of Professional Trainers, (NFPT), the average adult burns approximately 500 calories per day performing normal daily activities. If you consider yourself a little more or less active than most you may consider adding or subtracting 100 calories from the 500 calories per day average.

Going back again to our example 34-year-old female from previous posts, we have determined her Resting Metabolic Rate to be 1,380 calories, her Thermal Effect of Food to be 230 calories, and her average daily Activity Expenditure to be 500 calories.

1,380-Resting Metabolic Rate + 230 Thermal Effect of Food + 500 Activity Expenditure = 2,110 total required caloric intake to maintain her current 142 pounds.

Note per this example, to maintain her current weight of 142 pounds she should be taking in 2,110 calories per day but we see she is actually consuming 2,300 calories per day or an excess of 190 calories per day. Knowing that one pound of fat “weighs” 3,500 calories we can determine with a great degree of certainty, our 34 year old female will gain one pound in just under three weeks! How do we know that? Well let’s do the math”

Current daily caloric intake (2,300) – current daily caloric expenditure (2,100)=daily caloric surplus (190)

3,500 calories per pound divided by her daily caloric surplus of 190 calories per day equals 18.42 days! In theory every 18.42 days our 34 year old female will gain one pound of unwanted weight!

What does she need to do to stop this weight gain? Diet….right? Well, not necessarily. Why give up something she may enjoy. The thought of dieting, or restricting caloric intake, carries a negative connotation. So, rather than restrict 500 calories per day let’s burn 500 calories per day! Go for a walk! Your kids and dog will love you! If our example 34-year-old female walked 1 hour each day at a brisk pace, she will burn approximately 450 calories she currently does not burn. So instead of having a surplus of 190 calories, she will now have a calorie deficit of approximately 260 calories per day! (450 calories burned walking less 190 daily caloric surplus equals 260). Knowing a pound of fat weighs 3,500 calories, she will lose one pound of fat every two weeks! (3,500/260=13.46).

You say you don’t have time to walk, how far do you walk to your local coffee barista? 1 mile each way and you are half way done. There is no better time to appreciate the benefits of light exercise as immediately following meal time. After every meal, our bodies either store or use the most recent calories consumed so no better time to put those calories to good use as just after taking them in! Remember to walk slightly faster than your comfortable pace to achieve good results. On those rainy days, pull out and dust off that old exercise equipment you bought a few years ago and rarely used.

Now that you understand your Caloric Expenditure you are finally armed with the basic knowledge to start becoming a healthier you!

And remember, “I you want it, you’ve gotta go get it!”

Total Caloric Expenditure: Part 2-The Thermal Effect of Food

Mark Dziuban - Thermal

In part one of this series, we learned how to calculate your Resting Metabolic Rate, or RMR, which is how many calories your body burns to provide for all it’s necessary bodily functions. You now know how many calories your body requires before you do anything more than lay in bed all day.

Now that we understand and have calculated your resting metabolic rate, we have a little more work to do. Before we do that, let’s look at the equation for Total Caloric Expenditure.

Total Caloric Expenditure = RMR + Thermal Effect of Food + Activity Expenditure

The Thermal Effect of Food is the total number of calories required to digest your food. Yes, your body burns calories when processing, or digesting the food you eat. Your body burns calories absorbing and distributing those nutrients throughout your body. No, you cannot eat more food to burn more calories and lose weight. While that would be a fun way to lose weight, the fact is our bodies burn far fewer calories digesting the food we eat than the total number of calories contained in that food. We are going to use a very simple method to determine your Thermal Effect of Food. Remember that this figure varies depending on the types of food ingested. Simply calculate 10% of your daily caloric intake. The answer is the approximate number of calories required to digest and process our food. So, using our example 34-year-old female from our previous post, let’s say she consumes 2,300 calories per day. So, multiplying 2,300 calories by 10% or, 2,300 x .10 we determine her Thermal Effect of Food to be 230 calories. Her RMR we previously calculated to be 1,378.13 or let’s around up to 1,380 for easier math. Her Thermal Effect of Food is 230 so we know she currently burns 1,610 calories per day, 1,380 + 230 = 1,610.

We are well on our way to having a good idea how many calories we burn in a single day.

Before we move on any further, let’s talk about the three categories of metabolism. There are the Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and the Endomorph. Do you have a friend or family member who seemingly can eat anything at any time and never gain a single pound of weight? That lucky person is an Ectomorph, or is better identified as having a very high metabolism. A Mesomorph is one who has a normal metabolism and an Endomorph has a difficult time losing weight. You’ll need to determine which category you fit in to you will need to be honest with yourself. So, when calculating your Total Caloric Expenditure, or TCE, add 500 calories if you are an Ectomorph. If you are a Mesomorph, do nothing and for an Endomorph you will need to deduct 200 calories once you determine your daily caloric intake.

For sake of our example, let’s assume our 34-year-old female is a mesomorph and requires no change once we determine our new daily caloric intake requirements.

In part three of this series, we will talk a little bit about lean body mass, (LBM), and try to help you determine your activity expenditure.

As a side note: For those of you who are considering weight loss supplements: There are many weight loss supplements available in the store or online which have key ingredients that are not scientifically studied. Check on the internet to find if your “miracle product” references any scientific studies on humans-you may be surprised.

Until next time, always remember, “If you want it, you’ve got to go get it.”