nutrition Archives - Studio ME Fitness


Nutrition Labels

How to Read the New Nutrition Facts Tables


The Nutrition Facts table is on the side of most packaged foods. It’s often found close to the ingredient listing.


The purpose of it is to help consumers make better nutrition decisions. When people can see the number of calories, carbs, sodium, etc. in food, they should be able to eat better, right?


Whether you like the Nutrition Facts table or not, let’s make sure you get the most out of it, since it’s here to stay!


Here’s my four-step crash course on reading the Nutrition Facts table.


Step 1: Serving Size


The absolute most important part of the Nutrition Facts table is to note the serving size. Manufacturers often strategically choose the serving size to make the rest of the table look good. Small serving = small calories/fat/carbs. So, it’s tricky.


All the information in the table rests on the amount chosen as the serving size. And, since every manufacturer chooses their own, it’s often difficult to compare two products.


Let’s use an example – plain, unsalted walnuts from Costco.

As you can see, right under the Nutrition Facts header is the serving size. That is a ¼ cup or 30 g. This means that all the numbers underneath it are based on this amount.


FUN EXPERIMENT: Try using a measuring cup to see exactly how much of a certain food equals one serving. You may be surprised at how small it is (imagine a ¼ cup of walnuts).


Step 2: % Daily Value


The % Daily Value (%DV) is based on the recommended daily amount of each nutrient the average adult needs. Ideally, you will get 100% DV for each nutrient every day. This is added up based on all of the foods and drinks you have throughout the day.


NOTE: Since children are smaller and have different nutritional needs if a type of food is intended solely for children under the age of 4, then those foods use a child’s average nutrition needs for the %DV.


The %DV is a guideline, not a rigid rule.


You don’t need to add all of your %DV up for everything you eat all day. Instead, think of anything 5% or less to be a little; and, anything 15% or more to be a lot.


NOTE: Not every nutrient has a %DV. You can see it’s missing for things like cholesterol, sugar, and protein. This is because there isn’t an agreed “official” %DV for that nutrient. The good news is that the new Nutrition Facts tables will include a %DV for sugar. Keep your eyes out for that.


Step 3: Middle of the table (e.g. Calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, and protein)


Calories are pretty straight forward. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts has 200 calories.


Fat is bolded for a reason. That 19 g of fat (29% DV) is total fat. That includes the non-bolded items underneath it. Here, 19 g of total fat includes 1.5 g saturated fat, (19 g – 1.5 g = 17.5 g) unsaturated fat, and 0 g trans fat. (Yes, unsaturated fats including mono- and poly-unsaturated are not on the label, so you need to do a quick subtraction).


Cholesterol, sodium, and potassium are all measured in mg. Ideally, aim for around 100% of potassium and sodium each day. It’s easy to overdo sodium, especially if you grab pre-made, restaurant foods, or snacks. Keep an eye on this number if sodium can be a problem for you (e.g. if your doctor mentioned it, if you have high blood pressure or kidney problems, etc.).


Carbohydrate, like fat, is bolded because it is total carbohydrates. It includes the non-bolded items underneath it like fiber, sugar, and starch (not shown). Here, 30 g of walnuts contain 3 g of carbohydrates; that 3 g are all fiber. There is no sugar or starch. And as you can see, 3 g of fiber is 12% of your daily value for fiber.


Proteins, like calories, are pretty straight forward as well. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts contains 5 g of protein.


Step 4: Bottom of the table (e.g. vitamins & minerals)


The vitamins and minerals listed at the bottom of the table are also straightforward. The new labels will list potassium, calcium, and iron. Yes, potassium will drop from the middle of the table to the bottom, and both vitamins A & C will become optional.


Manufacturers can add other vitamins and minerals to the bottom of their Nutrition Facts table (this is optional). And you’ll notice that some foods contain a lot more vitamins and minerals than others do.




I hope this crash course in the Nutrition Facts table was helpful. While you can take it or leave it when it comes to making food decisions, it’s here to stay. And it will change slightly over the next few years.


Do you have questions about it? Have you seen the new labels with a %DV for sugar? If so, leave me a comment below.


Recipe (walnuts): Delicious and Super-Easy Walnut Snack


Serves 1


8 walnut halves

4 dates, pitted




Make a “date sandwich” by squeezing each date between two walnut halves.


Serve & enjoy!


Tip: Try with pecans instead.



September Spotlight

I am super excited about this months spotlight. This lady has really kicked some a$$ and taken names in the process these past few months!

Back in July Jackie came to frustrated with where she was and like most had plateaued and couldn’t get out of her rut. I had her keep a food log which we then sat down and reviewed. This was the first step in breaking through that plateau. She cleaned up her eating habits and started being more active which included lots of walking and taking a specific load of classes at Studio ME.  We planned on Jackie starting in on the MEfit Bootcamp in August but we had time to fill so, based on her goals, we planned out her workout routine.  Within the first two weeks of healthy eating (included Origin Meals) we saw some pretty amazing results. She was already down 9.4lbs and had lost 3″ on her waist. This is crazy results for just two weeks. Goes to show how those 2-3 lattes/day really add up!  August 17th rolled around and MEfit bootcamp began. Throughout the 8 weeks Jackie increased her lean muscle mass, has lost 18lbs and 4% body fat, dropped another inch on her waist and 2″ on her hips, and an inch around her arms and thigh and 3″ around her chest. HOLY MOLY! This girl is on fire. She has done all of this without dieting or following some of those stupid (sorry personal feelings here) diet trends where you restrict yourself or starve yourself- all she has done is eat better and more balanced meals with the appropriate macronutrient (protein, carbs, and healthy fats) breakdown and move her body daily!

What I am most proud of Jackie for is the strength to share her story. She has nearly destroyed all pictures of her from the past and has agreed to allow us to help her share her story and tell everyone that it is possible, yes, it is hard, yes, you will be a roller coaster ride and, yes, it is a lifestyle change but it is worth it! fI have seen Jackie’s confidence sky rocket over the past few months and you can totally see it in the recent pictures (make sure to read the entire story to see the pictures).


Are you ready to read her story??? Make sure to read to the end to see her AMAZING transformational pictures!


“I was an athlete and very active growing up playing volleyball, softball, track and basketball. Unfortunately, after leaving high school, I ended up living an unhealthy and sedentary life for most of my twenties.

In January of 2012, I made the official decision to overhaul my life and began down a wellness journey.  I didn’t know where I would end up, but over the course of the next two years, I lost 148 pounds through various nutrition and exercise “experiments.”  I have yet to read a nutrition theory I don’t love or want to test out.  You name it; I’ve tried it, sometimes successfully.  I’ve counted points and carbs, cut out processed foods; avoided anything white, quit dairy, drank kale, did a few whole30s, committed hardcore to living like our prehistoric ancestors with the paleo diet.  I tried ketogenics, juice cleanses, supplements, intermittent fasting; became a vegetarian then vegan for a hot second, and even believed for a while “food pairing” was the answer to all of my problems!

I disagree with the common saying that diets don’t work.  Every theory I’ve tested out works.  However, where they fail is in thinking that you’re going to be able to live the rest of your life worrying about the carb count of cruciferous vegetables or if the banana you ate for breakfast had too much sugar.  In 2014, I was eating a very strict diet and decided I wanted to take my fitness routine to a new level and began a short stint with Crossfit.  I barely lost a pound in the eight months I did it, but my body composition changed dramatically and I got to the fittest I had been since high school.

However, as it will- life happened; and in August of 2014, I hit a bump in the road with my health that knocked me off my center.  I had to put my fitness goals on the back burner and hit a plateau with my weight loss which caused my weight to fluctuate for almost two years.  If there’s a Wikipedia page anywhere with common weight-loss terms listed, I can guarantee you to find a picture of me listed next to the phrase “yo-yo” dieting.

About a year ago, I began looking for a new gym close to me in NE, and Studio ME came highly recommended by my friends Tram Nguyen and Molly Strong.  I was looking for a gym that allowed me to commit to an active lifestyle, but with a more laid-back, maintainable approach to fitness.  Studio ME seemed to embody that and I found with the smaller class sizes it was impossible to get lost in the crowd.  The atmosphere is the opposite of intimidating, and all the members go out of their way to make you feel welcome.  I started out slow as a member with a busy work schedule and was still trying to find my footing back to making a commitment to an active lifestyle.

In May of this past year, I felt like I was hitting another brick wall with my health.  From everything I had learned about nutrition, and my years of multiple dieting personalities, my metabolism and body were left confused more than anything.  Megan, the owner at Studio ME is very passionate about helping her clients achieve their goals so I reached out to her to see if she could give any insight into what I was doing wrong with my current nutrition plan.  Megan immediately agreed to meet with me, but only after I kept a food journal for a week.  I had told her, “I eat pretty clean, mostly a modified paleo diet and have no idea what the issue is!”  Writing everything down and having Megan review it forced me to be honest with myself and allowed her to give me solid advice in areas I could improve.  She broke down a simple, healthy way to approach meals and showed me how to allow it to fit in with my lifestyle and not have it be an obsession.  Sitting down with Megan also reminded me of some things I knew but had forgotten.  It’s completely true when they say that weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise, and that you can never out work an unhealthy diet.  One of my all-time favorite sayings still is, “you can get fit in the gym- but you get thin in the kitchen.”

During my sit down with Megan, she also recommended a breakdown of cardio, HIIT, and strength training classes I should attend to reach my goals.  Afterwards, I decided to join the eight-week, 3 day-a-week; Bootcamp the Studio offers.  This is what I find so great about Studio ME, despite its small size, it has a wide range of offerings.  I can come in for the 5:45 AM Bootcamp classes and get the intensity I crave.  The Row & Roll class with Siri is one of my favorites as well.  You start out with a hard-core row but end with a yoga routine that allows you to walk out with a yoga buzz forgetting your name.  Samantha’s well thought-out, unique fusion circuit classes always keep you guessing and are equal parts fun.  I have never left one of Liz’s Barre classes without angrily shaking at some point.  Tiffany, the instructor whose workouts I love to hate, leads my favorite class- Strength Circuit, which allows me to get the heavy weightlifting I miss from my Crossfit days.  Megan’s TRX classes feel like a strenuous acrobatic dance of some sorts, where you can’t help but catch on to her spunk and passion for what she does.

I’ve learned very personally through my journey that without our health we have nothing.  My approach to my health today is different than it’s ever been before.  I’m no longer after the 10, the 21-day or the “6 Weeks to a Perfect You” fix.  I’m doing the best to make healthy lifestyle choices one day at a time, and my health goals are no longer solely to have the perfect body, but instead to find overall wellness of body, mind and spirit.  I’m listening to my body more and find although it can be difficult to get into the habit of an exercise routine– once you do, the more you move, the more movement your body craves.

I am loving my life, where I am right now and I feel incredible with how much energy I have.  But, with my personality, I will always have some lofty fitness goals in mind for the future.  Studio ME is the perfect place for me to continue to pursue these goals, and if I’ve learned anything over these last 6 years, it’s that you can make your body (and life) look any way you want it to — if you’re willing to work for it.

– Jackie”





The Coconut Oil Craze – Should You Jump on the Bandwagon Too?

Yes you should (end of post).


But what exactly is it about coconut oil that makes it so healthy? And which type is best?


Let’s dive into some of the fascinating research and find out.


Coconut oil is a special kind of fat


Coconut oil is fat and contains the same 9 calories per gram as other fats.


It is extracted from the “meat” of the coconut. Coconut oil is a white solid at room temperature and easily melts into a clear liquid on a hot day.


The idea of adding coconut oil to your diet is NOT to add on to what you already eat but to substitute it for some of the (possibly) less healthy fats you may be eating now.


And here’s why – Because not all calories or fats are created equal.


Coconut oil contains a unique type of fat known as “Medium Chain Triglycerides” (MCTs). In fact, 65% of the fat in coconut oil are these MCTs.


What makes MCTs unique is how your body metabolizes them;  they’re easily absorbed into the bloodstream by your gut, where they go straight to the liver, and they’re burned for fuel or converted into “ketones.”


This metabolic process, unique to MCTs, is what sets coconut oil apart from other fats.


Coconut oil MCTs may help with fat loss.


Coconut oil’s MCTs have been shown to have a few different fat loss benefits.


First, it can help to increase feelings of fullness, which can lead to a natural reduction in the amount of food you eat.


Second, because of their unique metabolic route, MCTs can also increase the number of calories you burn;  this happens when you compare the calories burned after eating the same amount of other fats.


In fact, a few studies show that coconut oil may increase the number of calories you burn by as much as 5%.


Third, some studies show that eating coconut oil can help reduce belly fat (a.k.a. “waist circumference”).


Just remember not to add coconut oil to your diet without reducing other fats and oils!


How much coconut oil should I eat?


Many of the studies that showed increased fullness, increased metabolism, and reduced belly fat only used about 2 tablespoons per day.


You probably don’t need any more than that.


What kind of coconut oil is the best?


There are so many coconut oil options available in grocery stores these days that it can make it difficult to know which is best.


I recommend you stay away from “refined” ones, and opt for “virgin” coconut oil. That is because it is processed at lower temperatures and avoids some of the chemical solvents used in the refining process;  this helps to preserve more of the oil’s natural health-promoting antioxidants.


Pro Tip: Always (and I mean ALWAYS) avoid “hydrogenated” coconut oil. It can be a health nightmare because it contains the infamous “trans fats.”


One thing you should also consider is that each oil has a specific high temperature that you should avoid surpassing (e.g. its “smoke point”). For virgin coconut oil, that temperature is 350F. That means you can safely use it on the stovetop on a low-medium setting, as well as in most baking.




Substitute some of the fat you eat with virgin coconut oil;  this may help you to lose weight and belly fat by naturally helping you to eat less, as well as slightly increasing your metabolism.


Oh, and it tastes great too!


Recipe (Coconut Oil): Homemade Healthy Chocolate

Serves 12


⅓ cup coconut oil, melted

1 cup cocoa/cacao powder

4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 dashes salt

4 tablespoons slivered almonds


Melt coconut oil, and whisk in maple syrup, salt, and cocoa/cacao powder until smooth.

Stir in slivered almonds until evenly distributed.

Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.

Store in fridge or freezer to avoid melting.

Serve & enjoy!


Tip: Substitute other seeds, chopped nuts, or dried fruit instead of the almonds if you wish.



Take Care of YOU This Holiday Season. Stay healthy both emotionally and physically over the holiday season.

Think exercising, eating whole foods, meditation, yoga, reading, time with friends and family, etc. Does reading this list sound overwhelming? Well, it shouldn’t!


During the holidays life can get chaotic and the first few things to go are exercise and nutrition. How do we fight it?


Plan your schedule ahead of time.  This will help you stay more present and in the moment, focused on what this time of year is really all about. Don’t stress about the things you cannot control such as things like, um, Traffic. I personally don’t drive much so when I get in bumper to bumper traffic I start to stress especially since I am usually running late when this happens. I take a few deep breaths and try to calm myself down.  Remember to belly breath.

Why Self-Care is So Important?

Self-care does not mean selfishness. Remember that! Self-care is about carving time out of your day even if just for 1 minute to think about you. If you don’t take the time for yourself and are constantly putting everyone else’s needs first, how are you going to be a good mom, dad, wife, husband, brother, sister, etc. If you don’t manage yourself it can lead to increased cortisol levels which can impact your waistline, productivity, sleep, and emotional well being.  Most, if not all, aspects of self-care will help to reduce stress levels. Read my post about stress here.


Don’t Let the Holidays Be An Excuse

The holiday season can bring about a whole new set of excuses about WHY you don’t have the time or energy to exercise, prepare your meals, or get to bed at a decent time.  


Understandably you may have more going on this time of year than you do during other months but that doesn’t mean your exercise, nutrition, and other acts of self-care take a backseat until January.  


It’s all about choices! YOU have a choice as to how you handle the “expectations” of the holiday season and how they affect your time and schedule.  Keep in mind that the majority of us put these high expectations on ourselves. Remember,  those that care about us just want us to be happy and healthy.  Letting go of perfection and expectations during this holiday season will allow you to care for yourself in a way that is in line with your needs.  It also allows for a lower stress level and more enjoyment.  Who doesn’t want that?

Self Care Methods

Carve out 30-45 minutes at least twice a week to take a class at Studio ME or your studio/gym.


Foam roll or use your Yoga Tune Up Balls for self massage.  These can be a life saver if you are holding tension in your body.  Take anywhere from 10 minutes a day to roll.  Even if you only do your feet you will feel better. Grab a Yoga Tune Up Ball, a racquetball, or tennis ball and place one foot on top of the ball. Hold it in the arch of the foot and roll it around. The harder the ball the more you may feel it. Start with something softer. Try rolling your feel while you are brushing your teeth. That’s one minute per foot. Hey, it’s better than nothing!
Other methods could be pampering yourself whether its getting your hair done, a massage (oh I love hot stone massages), pedicure or manicure, deep breathing techniques, etc.

Lastly, do It Because You Want To

Set boundaries and learn to say NO. There are always a ton of holiday parties and events going on. It’s OK to say no. That is not selfish at all!  You need to take care of yourself so you don’t get run down. Don’t want to go to a party, say ‘No’. I know it’s hard but you will feel much better.


Set intentions for yourself for the festivities coming up this week and next with the New Year just around the corner. What do you NEED to do and what would you like to do. Focus on the need and then add time for YOURSELF.
Happy Holidays!!!