With so much diet and exercise information out there, it’s hard to figure out what it actually takes to be healthy. We checked in with nutritionists and dietitians for their most commonly-seen wellness faux pas.
1. Avoiding fats at all cost.“Many of our clients come to us worried that fat is unhealthy and therefore should be limited. However, good fats in foods like almonds and avocados lower disease risk.” — Jessica Jones and Wendy Lopez, registered dietitians and co-founders of Food Heaven Made Easy
2. Refusing to eat foods that are ‘bad.’ “Deprivation is bad for you, and not the way to achieve long-term goals. Additionally, most foods in moderation are okay, especially if you don’t have an allergy or intolerance.” — Ashley Walter, nutritionist, personal trainer and founder of Living With Ashley
3. Equating gluten-free with healthy. “A gluten-free cookie is still a cookie—and probably worse for you than a non-gluten free cookie. Many gluten-free flours, like rice, potato starch, or tapioca flour are ultra-processed, refined carbohydrates, and completely devoid of nutrients.” — Dr. Mike Roussell, PhD, co-founder of Neutein
15 highly successful people on how they stay happy and healthy
15 highly successful people on how they stay happy and healthy
Warren Buffett Reading and spending time alone
There's no denying that Warren Buffett, commonly known as the "Oracle of Omaha," is one of the most successful people alive. In fact, Forbes ranked Buffett as the third-wealthiest man in America in October 2017. Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett is also a highly successful investor and well-known philanthropist.
So, how does he stay so happy and healthy (and wealthy)?
Buffett, according to MarketWatch, likes to spend at least six hours a day reading newspapers and annual reports. Buffett also tends to keep to himself, opting to spend time alone or with a close inner circle of friends and family.
Founder and president of My Mom Knows Best, Josephine Geraci, notes that success hasn't affected Buffett's core values. "Warren Buffett always lived within his means, never cared what other people thought about him, followed his gut and found his happiness in life's simple pleasures — family, a modest home and an honest living."
Elon Musk Books and video games
Elon Musk is a gifted engineer and successful inventor. CEO of SpaceX and the visionary architect behind Tesla Motors, Musk has always been an avid reader, according to an article by Inc. In fact, as a child, he sometimes read two books in a single weekend.
While his commitment to self-education has certainly paid off, Musk admits his eating habits are not always so admirable.
In a video interview by AUTO BILD TV, Musk said, "I think it's probably true that having a good breakfast is a good idea, but usually I don't have time for that. I'll have a coffee or something like that … and a Mars bar, sure. But I'm trying to cut down on sweet stuff." Musk also admitted to drinking eight cans of Diet Coke and several large cups of coffee a day.
Additionally, Musk confessed to being something of a workaholic: "For a while there, I was just doing constant 100-hour weeks [in order to be the CEO of both Tesla Motors and SpaceX], and that's definitely wearing. And now I'm kind of in the 80 to 90 [hours-per-week range], which is more manageable."
Despite his hectic schedule, Musk does save time for leisure activities. According to his Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), Musk enjoys video games such as "Bioshock," "Fallout" and "Mass Effect," as well as classics like "Civilization" and "Warcraft."
Tony Robbins Mental and physical exercise
Tony Robbins, the No. 1 life and business strategist and The New York Times best-selling author, is an example of a highly successful individual who prizes routine.
Robbins shares his commitment to a healthy life in his many YouTube videos, believing that physical strength is as crucial as mental wellness. He talks about "feeding your body" through exercise, and pushing past limits until you realize you can achieve more.
Additionally, Robbins believes that individuals should watch what goes into their minds just as they would monitor how much sugar goes into their coffee. He suggests feeding your mind nutritiously by "reading, listening and re-tap[ping] into your ability to thrive."
Jim Cramer Pre-dawn training sessions
A former hedge fund manager and current host of the TV show "Mad Money," Jim Cramer is known for his unconventional approach and fiery personality. Baron describes this highly successful individual as a "high-energy, out-of-the-box" personality.
According to Business Insider, Cramer is also an early riser who gets up at 3:45 a.m. or earlier on the days he sees his personal trainer. He writes his first story for RealMoney.com after his hour-long workout session and has a chauffeur drive him to and from work. At home in the evening, he has dinner and watches TV — either football or Netflix.
Cramer confesses that his schedule is intense, and it's not uncommon for him to skip dinner and lose up to a pound a week during earnings season. However, he believes his lifestyle is what allows him to be successful.
"If I slept more, I wouldn't be able to do it," said Cramer.
Mark Cuban Listening to his body
Well known for his role on the popular TV show "Shark Tank," Mark Cuban is a businessman, investor, film producer, author, television personality, philanthropist and perhaps even a potential presidential candidate.
According to Baron, Cuban is an "early bird" who loves lists and exercises regularly. Still, when it comes to pushing himself physically, Cuban believes in listening to his body. In a video interview with Business Insider, Cuban shares his belief in tuning into one's own body to maximize potential.
"I go with how my body feels," said Cuban. "I get to make my own schedule, so if I'm tired I take a nap. I've met some guys who don't need sleep; I've met others who if they think they haven't got their 10 hours, I don't want to be anywhere near them. Everybody's body is wired differently; it's a math equation. I don't think there is any one size that fits all for anybody."
Bill Gates Philanthropy and spending time with his family
Co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates boasts a net worth of more than $89 billion. Although no longer the chair for Microsoft, Gates continues in his role of chief technology adviser while focusing on his family and philanthropic works through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Worth approximately $41.3 billion, the organization provides funding to reduce global health problems and education inequality in the U.S.
As part of his philanthropy, Gates takes his children on visits to locales such as garbage dumps, power plants and missile silos. However, he also saves time for relaxation.
Along with reading and playing tennis, Gates is reported by MyFirstClassLife to enjoy indulging in exotic vacations to Rome, Belize, Croatia and even Antarctica.
Mark Zuckerberg Reading one book a week
Yet another avid reader and reflector is Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and CEO of Facebook, computer programmer, internet entrepreneur and philanthropist.
According to an Inc. article, Mark Zuckerberg's tries to read a new book every other week, focusing on those exploring different cultures and belief systems, such as "The End of Power" by Moises Naim.
"I take a lot of time just to read and think about things by myself," he said. However, Zuckerberg might struggle to find the time to do all this reading, as a CNN Money article reported that the billionaire works 50 to 60 hours a week. He does save time deciding what to wear by donning the same T-shirt every day, the Muse reported.
Larry Page Modest living and personal challenges
Larry Page is one of the two brilliant mathematicians who co-founded Google. According to The Viral Hub, Page lives modestly, driving a Toyota Prius — when he's not cruising around in his Tesla Roadster, that is — and predominantly wears T-shirts and jeans.
In an interview with the Academy of Achievement, Page revealed his desire for balance in life.
"You can only work so many hours, and I try to have some balance," said Page. "At some point, you want to have a family. You want to have more time to do other things."
Page also believes in challenging himself and others on a daily basis. He told Fortune magazine that he makes do without a computer for much of his day, takes only his phone to meetings and encourages engineers and product managers to work only on their mobile devices at least one day a week. It's all part of his effort to keep the company's focus on mobile and to keep pushing people further.
Tim Cook Early starts
Tim Cook took over for Steve Jobs as the CEO of Apple in 2011. He succeeds in this high-stress position, in part, by getting an early start.
After rising at 3:45 a.m. each day, Cook straps on his Apple Watch so he can measure all of his activities, according to an article in The Telegraph. He arrives at the gym at 5 a.m. and is in the office by 6:30 a.m. While he retires early, generally between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., Cook frequently works weekends, holding Sunday evening phone meetings to discuss the upcoming week.
The Wall Street Journal noted Cook's discipline while he was still working under Jobs. "His stamina was inhuman," the article said. "He could fly to Asia, spend three days there, fly back, land at 7 a.m. at the airport and be in the office by 8:30 a.m., interrogating someone about some numbers."
Oprah Winfrey Transcendental meditation
Billionaire Oprah Winfrey is most famous for her hugely successful TV show, which ran from 1986 to 2011. However, she is also an actress, producer, publisher and philanthropist, and has accumulated a massive fortune over the course of her career.
How does Winfrey stay happy and healthy? In an article on her website Oprah.com, Winfrey acknowledged she was a huge proponent of Transcendental Meditation.
"I give myself a healthy dose of quiet time at least once (and when I'm on point, twice) a day," said Winfrey. "Twenty minutes in the morning, 20 in the evening."
Winfrey also arranged for teachers to instruct interested employees at her company in the practice of meditation.
"The results have been awesome," said Winfrey. "Better sleep, improved relationships with spouses, children, coworkers. Some people who once suffered migraines don't anymore. Greater productivity and creativity all around."
Arianna Huffington Weekend time to decompress
Arianna Huffington is an author, syndicated columnist, co-founder of The Huffington Post and creator of Thrive Global. While Huffington works hard all week, her weekends are spent relaxing.
"I love wearing no makeup and sweatpants," Huffington told Into the Gloss. "I get to have a complete break from the week, which for me is intense."
Like Winfrey, Huffington is a strong proponent of meditation and encourages the practice at work. In a TED Talk, Huffington said that her employees enjoy "weekly breathing exercises, yoga classes, meditation, two nap rooms." Additionally, she shared her commitment to exercising regularly and getting a good night's sleep. In fact, Huffington avoids charging her phone in her bedroom at night.
A relaxing shower also does wonders, Huffington told Into the Gloss. "I also have a bench in my shower because it's a steam shower. This way, you can sit down and have a steam; it's just so detoxifying."
Richard Branson A morning routine and lots of tea
Richard Branson is worth an estimated $5.1 billion, according to Forbes, thanks to his conglomerate of businesses under the Virgin umbrella, which include Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Galactic.
With major businesses under his watch, Branson makes the most of his day by getting an early start. In an April 2017 blog post on the Virgin website, Branson wrote that one of his secrets to success is that he usually wakes up at 5 a.m. and begins his day with a workout, which can be tennis, walking or running, biking or kite-surfing.
After exercising, he eats breakfast and spends time with his family. "Exercise and family time put me in a great mind frame before getting down to business," he said.
Branson doesn't usually go to bed until 11 p.m. As for how he stays energized for his long day, Branson credits drinking tea — and lots of it. "I'm talking 20 cups a day," he said. "Don't tell my doctor."
Barack Obama Exercise, alone time and seven almonds
Former President Barack Obama made sure to carve out time for exercise and relaxation, even when he held arguably the most stressful job in the world.
Obama told Men's Health that he typically worked out for 45 minutes a day, six days a week while heading up the Oval Office. "I'll lift one day and do cardio the next," he said of his usual routine.
He also made sure to carve out alone time, which he used to stay productive, but also to relax. According to a 2016 profile in The New York Times, Obama would spend four to five hours at the end of each day by himself, preparing speeches and reading briefing papers, but also watching ESPN, reading novels or playing Words With Friends on his iPad.
In addition, he does not consume caffeine or alcohol, and his go-to nighttime snack is a very specific and health-conscious seven almonds.
Jeff Bezos Eight hours of sleep
Jeff Bezos is now the richest person in the world, according to Forbes, which estimates his net worth at $98.1 billion. And even though he runs Amazon, one of the most successful companies in the world, he still makes sure to get a good night's sleep.
Bezos told Thrive Global that he aims to get eight hours of sleep every night. "I try hard to make that a priority," he said. "For me, that's the needed amount to feel energized and excited."
He also said having a good work-life balance — or "harmony," in his words — helps him to be more productive in both worlds. "If I'm happy at work, I'm better at home — a better husband and better father," Bezos said. "And if I'm happy at home, I come into work more energized — a better employee and a better colleague."
Bob Iger VersaClimber and long flights
Disney CEO Bob Iger swears by the VersaClimber cardio machine to stay fit. According to Variety, Iger wakes up every work day at 4:15 a.m. and gets on his climbing machine by 4:25 a.m. for an intense 45-minute workout.
And while some business professionals might see work travel time as a drag, Iger makes the most of all the hours he spends on his company's corporate jet. "I can catch up on things," he told Variety. "I can screen things. I can read things. I can satisfy my curiosity. I like it. It's peaceful."
Getting organized, Transcendental Meditation, voracious reading and other quiet, reflective practices are just a few characteristics shared by leading business professionals. Consider copying a few of these helpful habits to give yourself the best shot at success.
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4. Eating whatever you want after a workout.“Often, people say, ‘Oh, I just did a spin class, so I'm entitled to eat X’ or ‘I can't eat that, I didn't work out today.’ Your food intake and exercise output are not like a bank account. Of course, nutrition and fitness are related, but they're not the same highway. We exercise to attain fitness, for mental health, for social reasons, for fun, and for empowerment. Not to eat/not eat things.” — Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition
5. Saying, ‘I’m going on a diet.’ “A diet is not something you go on; it’s not Splash Mountain at Disney World. A diet is the combination of the things you are eating. A healthier, more sustainable way to think of it is, ‘I’m looking into cleaning up my diet.’” — Bryan Baia, Precision Nutrition coach, ACSM certified personal trainer and coach at Athlete Training Club
6. Thinking that wellness is ‘one size fits all.’“You don’t have to eat steamed broccoli and quinoa for dinner every night in order to live your best life. Remember that wellness is completely customizable, and your job is to figure out what works best for you.” — Jones and Lopez
7. Refusing to eat carbs. “Carbs have gotten a bad name in the nutrition world, but there are so many benefits of carbs. People need to learn the different types of carbs and how it can help you lose weight before making such a rash statement.” — Walter
8. Forgetting portion sizes. “People love to categorize foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ and forget that even healthful, nutrient-dense foods eaten in excessive amounts can cause weight gain. Things like avocado, nuts, olive oil and cheese are wonderful foods. But if you’re trying to manage your weight, it's probably not a good idea to eat six cups of quinoa a day.” — Moreno
Watch out for these foods:
17 healthy foods that are actually dangerous to overeat
17 healthy foods that are actually dangerous to overeat
First off, it's worth highlighting that most people don't even come close to getting as many vegetables as they should in their daily diet, so don't use this as an excuse to avoid the greens you need. Think of this warning as inspiration to eat the rainbow when it comes to your vegetables. "Broccoli is a superfood that is packed with potent antioxidants known to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, but when eaten in very large amounts, broccoli may lead to hypothyroidism (low thyroid)," say the Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT, and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, authors of The Nutrition Twins' Veggie Cure. "This is because they contain thiocyanates, which can make it difficult for your body to absorb iodine. If you're someone who has dealt with thyroid issues in the past, be sure not to consume very large amounts of broccoli." In moderation, though, find out what broccoli can do for your blood sugar.
The list of health experts and fitness influencers who swear by their morning lemon water is seemingly infinite. "It's a very low-calorie, low-sugar beverage that encourages drinking," explain The Nutrition Twins. "It helps you stay hydrated with its fresh flavor while also providing some immune-boosting vitamin C and antioxidants that may help to protect your cells from damage. However, if you drink a lot of lemon water, the acid from the lemon stays on your teeth and can damage your tooth enamel, which makes your teeth prone to cavities." If you do drink a lot of lemon water, the twins recommend rinsing your mouth afterward and drinking with a straw to minimize contact with your teeth. Here are 12 more potential reasons to love lemon water.
Almond or plant-based milks
The problem with cow milk alternatives, such as almond, oat, hemp, soy, coconut, and rice milks, is that they're often very processed and have lots of added sugars. In fact, these plant-based milks usually have little of the actual plant, says Keith-Thomas Ayoob, EdD, RD, FAND, associate clinical professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "A glass of the average almond milk, for example, only has about four almonds," he says. Here's why you should stop giving your kids nondairy milks.
"More accurately, coconut fat at room temperature is solid owing to its near-total saturated fat content," says Ayoob. Contrary to coconut oil's popularity among the foodie glitterati, there's no actual science to suggest coconut oil is healthy, he says. "Go for extra-virgin olive oil, or canola, grape-seed, or other unsaturated oils as a healthier alternative. And watch out for portion size: No matter the type of oil you're using, they all have lots of calories, so use them sparingly," Ayoob warns. Check out these other compelling reasons to avoid cooking with coconut oil.
Tuna is a versatile and inexpensive source of protein, magnesium, zinc, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. "If, however, you're choosing solid albacore or tuna steaks several times a week, you're likely getting too much mercury, which is a neurotoxin," say the Nutrition Twins. "Mercury poisoning can lead to muscle weakness and vision changes." To avoid any danger, they recommend for the light tuna instead of albacore if you eat tuna regularly. "Pregnant women and children are advised to choose the lowest mercury-containing fish and limit their intake to no more than two times per week." Here's a guide to how much fish you can eat safely.
Kimchi—a type of pickled cabbage—is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and gut-healthy prebiotic fiber, say the Nutrition Twins. Plus, the kick of flavor is a tasty way to eat your veggies. But it also happens to be high in sodium—the 670 milligrams in a single 100-gram serving translates to almost a third of your recommended maximum sodium intake, they warn. "Combining a few servings of kimchi with the foods you eat in your day and you'll go well beyond the sodium limit, increasing your risk of developing high blood pressure and congestive heart failure," the twins say. That said, kimchi makes the list of 15 foods that nutritionists try to eat every day—in moderation!
Most people can drink green tea with no worries: "It's packed with catechins, powerful antioxidants that help fend off cancer, inflammation, and heart disease," say the Nutrition Twins. "However, the tannins found in green tea can also interfere with the absorption of non-heme iron (iron from plant-based sources), so if you have low iron levels or are at risk for iron deficiency (some athletes, elderly, pregnant women, and vegetarians who don't consume enough iron) avoid drinking green tea with meals and just drink it between them." Look out for these silent signs of an iron deficiency.
Red wine can help boost wellness, but the dose is key. "Red wine can be heart healthy and part of a healthful Mediterranean diet, in modest amounts," says Ayoob. "A modest amount is defined as one five-ounce glass per day for women, two glasses for men." Just don't plan on going dry six days out of the week so that you can guzzle half a dozen glasses of wine on Saturday night. "It's use 'em or lose 'em," says Ayoob. "No saving them up for a big blast on the weekend." And he warns that booze of any kind doesn't mix well with many medications; check with your doctor about the safety of wine with your prescriptions. Learn what happens to your body when you drink a glass of red wine every day.
Grapefruit and other citrus fruits
While citrus fruits are healthy for most people, Ayoob points out that grapefruit, tangelos, minneolas, pummelos, and more can interfere with a long list of medications, including some statins and antihistamines. "Interaction varies with the medication, but can result in very high blood levels of the drug, or sometimes decreased absorption of the drug, when taken within 72 hours of consuming these citrus fruits." If you're taking medication, always check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you can safely consume citrus fruits. Find out which other 17 "healthy" foods can actually be bad for you.
When it comes to weight loss, fiber—the part of a carbohydrate your body can't digest—is incredibly important. It swells in the stomach to make you feel fuller longer, meaning you can lose weight without hunger. However, if you're not used to plenty of fiber in your diet, eating too much at once can cause gas and bloating. "This is typical but annoying and can be socially awkward," says Ayoob. "You really need to introduce fiber gradually and consistently if you're used to a low-fiber diet." Find out what happens to your body when you start eating more fiber.
Cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts
"These are great foods with tons of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins," says Ayoob. "The problem for people on blood-thinning medications, like warfarin, is that they're high in vitamin K, a nutrient that helps blood to clot." (Here are 17 more medication mistakes that could make you sick.) Unless you're at high risk for blood clots, though, the vegetables are good for you.
While brown rice can be a source of whole grains, it may have higher levels of inorganic arsenic, depending on where it's grown. "Arsenic is present in water and soil and as a result of polluted runoff that can drain into groundwater," explains Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, CLC. "This, in turn, increases the arsenic content of water in some areas where brown rice is grown. Issues arise with frequent and consistent exposure; thus, eating brown rice and products with brown rice derivatives every day can result in higher exposure to arsenic." She advises rinsing your brown rice and varying the type of grains you eat. Don't miss these other high-carb foods that could kill you.
You might think drinking juice is just like eating fresh whole fruits, but juices are mostly sugar and they don't have any of the belly-filling fiber you get when you eat real fruit. "Consumers are often confused about this and feel that having juice on a regular basis is a healthy choice," says Feller. "The solution, skip the juice and have the whole fruit." Check out these other 13 healthy swaps that will cut your sugar intake.
Protein is vital for both losing weight and building lean muscle. The average healthy person needs about 1.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight, depending on age, physical activity level, and other health-related variables, says Feller. Does this mean the average person should start to take a protein powder supplement as a part of their daily routine? "I would advise not," she says. "Most of us can meet our protein needs by following a healthy balanced diet. Excessive protein intake can strain the kidneys." Also, some supplements may be contaminated with heavy metals. Feller recommends that you "get clear guidance from a credentialed professional around protein supplementation." Watch out for these silent signs you're eating too much protein.
We all need plenty of water—and most Americans don't get enough. In fact, we often confuse our thirst for hunger, warns Feller. "However the other side of the coin is over-hydration," says Feller. "Drinking too much water over a short period of time can disturb electrolyte imbalance and in turn result in dangerously low sodium levels." That said, this usually only occurs, she says, if someone drinks gallons of water over a short period of time. Learn the silent signs that you're drinking too much water.
Spices are a healthy, low-calorie alternative to heavy sauces and condiments. But a little goes a long way when it comes to adding flavor. "I'm a huge fan of spices—I just wrote a book on their health benefits," says Melina B. Jampolis, MD, author of Spice Up, Slim Down, and founder of SpiceFit. "They're loaded with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, but in the case of nutmeg, consuming excessive amounts may have a hallucinatory effect and can lead to nutmeg poisoning due to one of the active chemicals in the seeds called myristicin." If you overdo it, you could experience intense nausea, dizziness, and extreme dry mouth. But you'd need to eat at least a tablespoon before you were at risk of any of those effects, so putting a dash in your eggnog or adding a teaspoon to a recipe is totally safe, says Dr. Jampolis.
Before you cut out Popeye's fuel, remember that most people don't get nearly enough leafy greens, including spinach, in their diet. "This is unfortunate because leafy greens are a terrific low-calorie source of vitamins and minerals including magnesium, lutein, folic acid, and vitamin K," says Dr. Jampolis. "But for people with the most common type of kidney stones, calcium oxalate, too much spinach could be problematic, as it contains high levels of oxalate, which could lead to kidney stones in those at risk." Don't miss these other everyday mistakes that put your kidneys in trouble.