All Entries For healthy eating

12 Chicken Meals You Can Prep in 15 Minutes or Less

Whether it's the holiday season sneaking around the corner, summer activities, school functions or the busy time at work, schedules have a way of becoming a carefully balanced juggling act. As a result, getting a healthy dinner on the table often takes a back seat to social events, the kids' extracurricular activities, shopping or baking. With the help of a trusty slow cooker and a long list of recipes, though, healthy meals can still be incorporated into your evening plans in almost no time and with very little effort. Slow cooker recipes require only a few minutes of your attention—just prep, go about your day and come home to a finished, nutritious meal.

Salsa Chicken Dice a few veggies, pop open some salsa and tomatoes and you've got a meal your family will love. 178 Calories, 4g Fat, 27g Protein

Marinara Chicken & Vegetables
 Throw your ingredients together in the slow cooker first thing in the morning. A hearty, healthy dinner will be waiting when you get home! 177 Calories, 4g Fat, 27g Protein

Creamy Italian Chicken With its creamy base and just a touch of zesty flavor, this chicken dish is one your family will request by name.385 Calories, 13g Fat, 41g Protein

Spanish Chicken Don't think you can create a gourmet meal in a slow cooker? This roasted pepper and almond recipe begs to differ. 322 Calories, 6g Fat, 31g Protein

Buffalo Chicken
 Not only is this four-ingredient chicken lighter than traditional Buffalo wings, it's also more versatile. 115 Calories, 5g Fat, 16g Protein

Chicken Tortilla Soup This flavorful soup will make you rethink how you enjoy Taco Tuesday. 89 Calories, 2g Fat, 8g Protein

Chicken Stew This hearty stew is brimming with both flavor and veggies. 203 Calories, 4g Fat, 21g Protein

Orange Chicken The ingredients might not sound like they go together--orange marmalade, soy sauce and barbecue sauce--but trust us, you're going to flip for this unique mix of flavors. 318 Calories, 5g Fat, 46g Protein

Chicken & Veggie Mac & Cheese This recipe contains cheesy goodness for the kids and veggies in every bite for you. 464 Calories, 15g Fat, 26g Protein

Rotisserie Chicken Supermarket rotisserie chickens are a busy cook's best friend. When you have time to plan ahead, make your own—right in your slow cooker! 278 Calories, 12g Fat, 42g Protein

Honey Mustard Chicken A homemade honey mustard sauce takes this tender chicken recipe to the next level of deliciousness. 200 Calories, 5g Fat, 25g Protein

Bourbon Street Chicken If the idea of shredded dark meat in a sweet sauce isn't enough to convince you to make this, will the fact that the recipe has been shared more than 136,000 times help? 168 Calories, 4g Fat, 20g Protein

Click here for more healthy slow cooker chicken ideas.

How often do you use your slow cooker? What healthy slow cooker chicken recipes will you be trying?
Posted 11/20/2015  12:00:00 AM By: Alicia Capetillo : 1 comments   8,082 views
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10 Restaurant Meals Get a Healthy Makeover

One of the more difficult parts of sticking to a healthy eating plan is knowing that many old favorites and fast-food standbys can no longer be on the menu. Outrageous calorie counts, sodium levels that are through the roof and processed ingredients you can’t even pronounce put a lot of ooey, gooey, sugary and sweet foods on the no-no list. But you’re in luck, because with a few modifications and healthy substitutions, many favorite restaurant meals and sweet treats can easily find their way into your new meal plan.
Whether it’s a Chinese takeout favorite that you can’t live without or a seemingly healthy smoothie that really isn't, these 10 copycat recipes for some restaurant favorites cut the fat, but none of the flavor or fun. Indulge away!

Iced Coffee It will take more time to find and put on slippers to drive to your local café than it will to create this sweet, mildly chocolatey coffee drink. 

Sausage McMuffin with Egg Trim 26 grams of fat in your breakfast sandwich with this classic drive-thru re-do.

Chicken Tacos Skip the assembly line counter and the guac-is-extra guacamole and make these better-for-you spicy tacos at home instead. The homemade jalapeno-avocado based salsa will have your taste buds singing.

Sesame Chicken Erase two-thirds of the restaurant version’s calories and milligrams of sodium in this slimmed-down version of a Chinese takeout favorite.

Carolina Chicken Salad With more than 1,100 calories and a whopping 68 grams of fat, it’s hard to take the original restaurant salad seriously. This makeover offers the same citrusy flavor for a much more reasonable 205 calories and 9 grams of fat.

Southwestern Eggrolls Eliminate more than half the calories found in this popular appetizer by skipping the deep fryer. The new recipe packs in a colorful array of veggies, too.

Chicken Carbonara Date night just got more delicious with this healthy spin on an Italian favorite. With just 363 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving, this dish pulverizes the restaurant original, which clocks in with a whopping 1,570 calories and 113 grams of fat.

Lettuce Wraps Swapping the chicken in these restaurant favorite wraps for turkey is just one of the changes that will save you roughly 200 calories per serving.

Berry Smoothie Smoothies are guilty of masquerading as a health food, but most are packed with sugary juices or ice cream. Skip the fro-yo and use a frozen banana to create the same creamy texture right in your blender.

Frosty® Grab the kid’s size chocolate treat at the drive-thru and you’ll be tracking 200 empty calories, but make this version at home and you’ll indulge your sweet tooth for just 66 calories.
Posted 11/11/2015  12:00:00 AM By: Alicia Capetillo : 1 comments   15,651 views
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Sugar Showdown: Hard Cider vs. Junk Food

As both temperatures and leaves continue to fall, you may have noticed grocery and liquor stores stocking up on a large variety of seasonal alcoholic drinks, including many types of hard cider. Once a niche ruled by Woodchuck and Strongbow, a quick Wikipedia search now lists more than 130 cider brews in the market and growing. Like it or not, seasonal brews are here to stay. According to IRi, a Chicago-based market research firm, cider sales grew 75 percent from November 2013 to November 2014, making it the fastest-growing beverage in the beer and flavored malt industry.
Posted 11/5/2015  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 16 comments   20,995 views
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12 Satisfying Meatless Meals for Your Menu

The popularity of Meatless Mondays proves it: Vegetarian meals aren’t reserved for people who never eat meat. Many meat-free recipes are full of flavor, high in protein and offer a healthy alternative to your typical ‘’meat and potato’’ dish. In addition to being delicious, going vegetarian regularly can also reduce your risk of chronic conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. Jump on the meatless bandwagon a few times a week with some of these veggie-filled recipes. 

Garden Vegetable Frittata
Featuring asparagus, mushrooms, shallots, zucchini and tomatoes, this fresh and filling frittata is perfectly at home on your breakfast or dinner table.

White Beans, Spinach and Tomato Linguini This 10-minute dish is the way to a pasta lover’s heart.

Cheesy Vegetable-Stuffed Eggplant This easy, cheesy eggplant packs a mean veggie punch.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili With flavorful and sweet butternut squash at its core, this chili can hold its own against any chili competitors.

Easy Vegetable Enchiladas High in fiber and protein without lacking an ounce of flavor.

Goin' Green Smoothie This four-ingredient smoothie blends up sweet strawberries and bananas with healthy spinach to create the perfect start to any day.

Simple Quinoa and Vegetables Protein-rich quinoa is a vegetarian meal’s best friend and it shines in this weeknight favorite.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Greens Rich and creamy rice complements healthy squash and greens in this dish that will impress guests.

Hearty Veggie Omelet Sub in your favorite veggies for this breakfast staple.

Broccoli Raisin Salad with Chickpeas This popular party salad gets a healthy chickpea and almond makeover.

Ratatouille Packed with veggies and tons of flavor, this hearty stew will be met with a chorus of “yummm.” 

Easy Peanut and Sesame Noodles Served cold or hot, these tangy yet sweet noodles are rich and tasty.
Posted 10/23/2015  12:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 4 comments   29,756 views
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Which Fruits and Veggies are in the New Dirty Dozen?

We often hear that organic produce is "cleaner" than conventional (non-organic) produce and free of pesticides; however, organic remains more expensive and isn't available everywhere.

Which conventional fruits and vegetables contain more pesticide residue? Which ones have the least?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently completed an analysis of conventional produce to measure pesticide residue levels. Based on the results of almost 34,000 samples taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and federal Food and Drug Administration. Samples were tested after being washed or peeled, to mimic what consumers would do. Therefore, unwashed and unpeeled produce would likely contain even more concentrations of pesticide residues.

Eating the twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables, referred to as “The Dirty Dozen,” exposes the average person to about 15 different pesticides each day, while someone eating the least contaminated will be exposed to fewer than two pesticides each day. (To see the full list, go here).

The Dirty Dozen: Top 12 Foods to Buy Organic

If you have budget constraints, your money is doing more for your health when you put it towards organic varieties of the following fruits and vegetables (listed in descending order, starting with greatest levels pesticide contamination):

1. Apples
2. Peaches
3. Nectarines
4. Strawberries
5. Grapes
6. Celery
7. Spinach
8. Sweet Bell Peppers
9. Cucumbers
10. Cherry Tomatoes
11. Imported Snap Peas
12. Potatoes

The Clean 15: Save Your Money & Buy Conventional

If going totally organic is too difficult or pricey, play it safe and eat the following conventional produce items to minimize your exposure. These are known to have the least amount of pesticide residue (listed in ascending order, starting with of lowest levels of pesticide contamination):

1. Avocados
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbage
5. Frozen sweet peas
6. Onions
7. Asparagus
8. Mangoes
9. Papayas
10. Kiwis
11. Eggplant
12. Grapefruit
13. Cantalope
14. Cauliflower
15. Sweet potatoes

To see receive a PDF version of the guides, you can sign up for the EWG's newsletter here).

When eating conventional foods, be certain to peel away edible skins and outer leaves (such as those on lettuce) as pesticides are often concentrated there. Remember to wash all produce (conventional and organic) thoroughly with a natural fruit and vegetable cleanser. Peeling and washing can help reduce (not eliminate) pesticide exposure, but also results in the loss of valuable vitamins and nutrients (like fiber). When you have the choice between an organic item and one that’s conventionally grown, choose organic as much as possible. 

For more information on eating organic foods on a budget, read this article.

I keep a copy of this list on a note in my phone, and I consult it when I go to the grocery store.

Do you have "priorities" when buying organic? Do you follow this list?

Last updated in September 2015

Posted 9/28/2015  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 114 comments   25,872 views
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12 Healthy Dishes Served on a Stick

The kids might be back in school and store shelves are filling with fall merchandise, but we’re not ready to let go of summer just yet. With the weather still warm and Labor Day right around the corner, now is the perfect time to take advantage of one of summer’s favorite foods: the kabob! Popping meats, veggies, fruits and even whole sandwiches on a stick is a great way to add fun and variety to your meals and parties, no matter the time of year. Plus, presenting a meal on a stick will certainly grab the attention of little picky eaters.
Reflect on a summer of sun and fun by assembling and cooking up a few of these crowd-pleasing healthy kabobs. 
Posted 9/4/2015  12:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 2 comments   6,223 views
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Beat the Heat with 12 Summer Salads

Back to school and pumpkin beers at the grocery say summer is coming to a close, yet no one seems to have told the sun as temperatures remain hot in most of the country. Salads are a cool and refreshing way to beat the heat and change things up at the dinner table after a summer filled with grilled meats. Plus, with minimal prep time and simple ingredients, you'll spend less time with a hot stove and more time enjoying the sunshine. The many fresh fruits and other foods available during the summer months (farmers market, anyone?) allow you to add flavor and variety to your salads--no boring meals here! Hold on tight to the last bit of summer by enjoying a few of these summer-friendly salads in the coming weeks.

Summer Salad with Peaches and Goat Cheese
 Sweet summer peaches and tangy goat cheese top the season’s freshest vegetables in this crowd-pleasing salad.

Summer Salad with Chicken and Berries With berries reaching their peak sweetness levels, now is the perfect time to incorporate them into a salad. Let a range of fresh berries shine in this filling lunch dish.
Coach Nicole's Favorite Summer Salad Add your favorite dressing—balsamic vinaigrette works great—to this filling and effortlessly delicious salad.

Spinach-Berry Salad Fresh and juicy strawberries mingle with tender spinach, goat cheese and crunchy almonds in this salad that even kids will devour.

Cool Cucumber Salad Cucumber, red onion and a simple dressing are all you need to create this fantastic dish, which happens to pair well with grilled meats.

Caprese Salad Simple flavors combine in this timeless salad that is sure to win fans at your next backyard BBQ.

Easy Watermelon and Feta Salad Watermelon is a favorite summer dessert, but it makes a lovely addition to a dinner salad, too. Here, creamy citrus dressing and crunchy celery pairs with the sweet melon.

Peach-Tomato Salad with Basil and Feta Sweet, juicy peaches, tangy tomatoes, fresh basil and feta come together in a salad that is sure to make your taste buds do the happy dance.

Israeli Salad When the ingredients are fresh, salads can be simple, yet impressive. This traditional Israeli salad is perfect as a side, lunch salad or as a filling for your pita.

Spinach and Pear Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette Up your salad game with this spinach and pear salad topped with a homemade Dijon vinaigrette.

Waldorf Salad The classic Waldorf salad gets a healthy makeover thanks to the addition of low-fat yogurt.

End of Summer Salad A hot summer afternoon is the perfect time to enjoy this sweet and savory watermelon salad.

Do you eat more salads during the summer months? Which of these recipes will you try first?

Click here for even more summer salad recipes.

Posted 8/21/2015  12:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 2 comments   11,159 views
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The Natural Benefits of Ginger

The next time you get an upset stomach, you might be relieved to know that you don't have to down spoonfuls of gross pink fluid or chew chalky tablets. In case of bellyache, stock your fridge with one thing: Ginger. Hundreds of years ago, people sailed all over the globe in search of this natural soother of upset bellies. Ginger has been proven to reduce nausea and vomiting, even in chemotherapy patients. But that's not the only reason you should start consuming more of this spice. 

Posted 7/28/2015  9:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 11 comments   20,638 views
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9 Ways to Get Healthy Fats Into Your Diet

Life is full of ambiguity and challenges. Few challenges in life can be as complex as proper nutrition. Your body is your greatest possession. You owe it to yourself to find out all you can about staying healthy. Most diets imply giving up something. However, the diet we will discuss is about taking advantage of something. You will learn how to take advantage of fats by incorporating healthy fats in your eating habits. By making small changes, lasting results will come.

Don’t Throw Out the Sweets

This sounds counter-productive, but throwing out all the unhealthy food is the first step to failure. Humans have an affinity for sugar, which causes those pesky sugar cravings. When you can’t get to sugar, your body craves the most-caloric foods: fat. If you snack on candy or other concentrated sweets now and then, it’s okay. Just limit yourself to one or two high-sugar items a week.

Don't Go Fat-Free

Your body needs fat to survive. Fats are used by the body in many different chemical processes, which are required to survive. For example, your skin contains fats to help prevent bacteria and elements from entering the body.  

Reduce Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are those that are solid at room temperature, as well as a few tropical oils. When you cook, use fats that exist as a liquid at room temperature. This includes olive, vegetable, canola, and peanut oil. These make excellent bases for creating a home-made dressing, which can be used on salads, breads, pasta, or anything else you eat.

Snack on Nuts

Nuts are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which promote heart health. Nuts contain huge amounts of proteins as well. This gives your body a source of energy without the high caloric values of common snacks. However, avoid purchasing nuts processed with additives, such as salt, sugars, or even electrolytes.

Have Fish Once a Week

Fish contains high levels of beneficial Omega-3s and other healthy fats. Furthermore, the Omage-3s reduce low-density lipids and triglycerides—bad forms of cholesterol. Some fish lack high values of these nutrients, so stick to Salmon, Tuna, Herring, Mackerel, and Lake Trout. Also, do not deep fry your fish. What’s the point of eating healthier foods if it’s swimming in pure fat?

Travel South of the Border

Mexican food contains many antioxidants in addition to being lower in unhealthy fats. Avocados, pinto beans, and fresh fruit and vegetables all promote healthy fats in your body. You can even purchase avocado oil for much of your cooking.

Make Specialty Butters

When you use butter for your food, you are actually using an unhealthy fat. However, you can reduce the amount of unhealthy fat by making home-made specialty butters. Take a typical stick of butter, add some seasonings to it, and let it set in the fridge for a few days. The flavor imparted in the butter will be pronounced, which results in using less butter for your foods.

Ditch Boxed Food

Processed foods contain an extraordinary amount of substitutes, fats, and preservatives. These substances encourage and reinforce cravings for unhealthy foods. When you shop for food, avoid going down the center aisles of the store. Fresh food is kept on the store’s perimeter for freshness, and fresh food has more healthy fats than processed items.

Eat  Your Eggs

You have heard of the dangers of egg yolks for cholesterol. However, whole eggs are very beneficial when eaten whole and in moderation. Try to limit yourself to less than six eggs per week. This will actually give you some of the healthy fats from the eggs without worrying about the excess cholesterol caused by overindulgence.

With the above steps in mind, you can incorporate more healthy fats into your diet. Don't feel like you have to use all of these tips at once--start with slow changes to allow for natural integration of healthy fats into your diet.
Posted 6/25/2015  9:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 0 comments   10,370 views
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12 Hot-Off the Grill Recipes

Summer brings to mind a number of scents—sunscreen, salty sea air, chlorine—but for our money, the smell of a hot grill cooking up a meal is the best of them all. Whether you’re making lunch or dinner for you and the family or you’re entertaining guests, grilling is a great option for making quick, flavorful and healthy meals. From chicken to pizza and everything in between, there is an easy grilling recipe for you to love! Fire up the grill and try one of these new recipes this summer.

Tropical Grilled Chicken 
This sweet and savory chicken is delicious as is with a side of grilled veggies, but can also be shredded for tacos.
265 Calories, 3g Fat, 34g Carbs, 28g Protein

Grilled Garlic Citrus Flank Steak Pair this flank steak with Chef Meg's Garlic-Citrus Parsley Sauce, plus a green salad and some whole-grain bread--warmed on the grill, of course!--for a completely delicious meal.
231 Calories, 12g Fat, 4g Carbs, 24g Protein

Simple Grilled Salmon 
If you’ve never considered grilling salmon, this recipe will change your mind. Fresh dill and lemon shine through in this light, quick and easy dinner.
210 Calories, 10g Fat, 0.5g Carbs, 29g Protein

Southwestern Grilled Pork Tenderloin The "other white meat" is perfect for grilling! The simple four-ingredient rub helps create a very flavorful dish.
170 Calories, 5g Fat, 1g Carbs, 28g Protein

Honey Grilled Chicken Breasts Ginger and garlic are the stars of the sauce in this easy chicken dish. Just marinate overnight and throw it on the grill the next day.
189 Calories, 3g Fat, 12g Carbs, 27g Protein

Balsamic Grilled Chicken Breast The marinade in this grilled chicken recipe can be easily altered to suit your taste. The final product pairs nicely with roasted potatoes, a green side salad and fresh fruit.
210 Calories, 10g Fat, 3g Carbs, 26g Protein

Lime-Grilled Chicken with Cuban Salsa 
Looking for a lot of flavor? This lime-grilled chicken is bursting with fresh, tropical ingredients that are sure to please your taste buds.
373 Calories, 7g Fat, 30g Carbs, 48g Protein

Grilled BBQ Chicken Flatbreads A fun take on pizza that is also lighter on calories! Pile on extra veggies to make it even more nutritious.
233 Calories, 5g Fat, 21g Carbs, 26g Protein

Grilled Pesto & Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breasts This delicious chicken recipe requires just four ingredients and takes no more than 25 minutes to make. 
382 Calories, 15g Fat, 2g Carbs, 55g Protein

5-Ingredient Grilled Rosemary Chicken Breast Grilling doesn’t get much easier than this chicken, which cooks up in just 15 minutes. Serve with a green salad, summer fruit and whole-grain bread to round out the meal.
170 Calories, 7g Fat, 1g Carbs, 26g Protein

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms on the Grill 
These cheesy stuffed mushrooms are the versatile food every grill master needs. Serve them as an appetizer, a light vegetarian meal or a hearty side dish.
94 Calories, 4g Fat, 10g Carbs, 7g Protein

Grilled Perch with Citrus Salsa Citrus and cilantro really complement this grilled fish. The light perch goes well with brown rice or whole-grain tortillas warmed on the grill, along with a salad or steamed vegetables.
241 Calories, 8g Fat, 13g Carbs, 29g Protein

What is your favorite grill-out recipe? Which of these recipes will be on your grill this summer?

Click here for more grill out recipes and resources.
Posted 6/23/2015  12:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 0 comments   17,581 views
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FDA Snack Attack: Are Kind Bars Unhealthy?

At least four types of Kind Bars are in violation of the FDA's "healthy-labeling" requirements. The problem? Too much saturated fat. The FDA is considering pulling the bars from grocery shelves until Kind changes the labeling to meet the requirements.

Will you continue to buy Kind Bars?

The FDA has found that at least 4 types of Kind Bars are in violation of the FDA's "healthy-labeling" requirements... in SparkPeople's Hangs on LockerDome

Posted 4/16/2015  9:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 27 comments   13,370 views
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Happier Meals: Cool School Lunch Strategies

As summer starts winding down and back-to-school shopping begins, lunch boxes and supplies might be on your list. What can you do to help ensure that your kids eat the healthy food you pack instead of trading it for chips and cookies--or even throwing it away? There are lots of cool accessories to make lunchtime more exciting. Looking for ideas to turn boring carrot sticks into a food they won’t want to turn down? Here are some of our picks to brighten up lunch and make healthy eating fun! 
Posted 8/18/2014  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 5 comments   30,612 views
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Clean Eating 101: Healthier Eating Made Easy

Are you curious about the term clean eating? Have you ever wondered what it is exactly or whether it might benefit you?
In my experience as a "clean eater," this way of eating can be a fabulous way to improve your health.
Clean eating in the most simple terms means eating real food—foods that are whole (unprocessed) and in their most natural state. In other words, people who subscribe to clean eating try to avoid foods altered or processed by humans or manufacturers.
That being said, there are many different approaches to eating clean, and none of them are wrong. Everyone from carnivores to vegans can eat clean and it doesn’t have to be complicated. While some people put lots of strict dieting rules around their "clean" diets, that's not the case for everyone. Eating clean really can be delicious, fulfilling, filling and simple! Here's how.
Posted 5/22/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 23 comments   446,784 views
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Our 5 Favorite Spring Foods

I don't know about you, but I'm so over winter. I'm so grateful that spring is officially here. I'm tired of eating heavy comfort foods that our bodies crave all winter.

One of the best things about spring is all the all the fresh, light, delicious produce that starts to appear at farmers markets and in the supermarkets.

Today we're counting down our top five spring foods (in video format!):

Posted 3/26/2014  12:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 7 comments   10,234 views
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How to Prevent Muscle Loss When Losing Weight

When starting a weight-loss plan, most of us hope to lose body fat, specifically—not muscle mass. But when we lose weight, a large percentage of the total weight lost can be muscle. Is there any way to reduce that muscle loss?
Posted 3/22/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Becky Hand : 12 comments   117,551 views
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