Daniels Fitness Center is not only the hub for physical fitness enthusiasts aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany but also the office of the installation’s nutrition enthusiast as well.
Anyone who has walked into the fitness center knows there is no shortage of exercise/elliptical equipment. Practically every square inch of floor space is covered with something - treadmills, gliders, gazelles, various weight-lifting benches and the like - all designed to sculpt that perfect physique.
What many may not have noticed during their visits to the center is the nutrition specialist, who has worked for the past seven years to promote what she referred to as “clean eating,” as the ultimate component to sculpting a healthier body.
“I’m here to assist with (providing) nutritional needs, with healthy, clean eating (to the base community),” Yvette Ponder, nutrition specialist, Marine Corps Community Services, MCLB Albany, said.
“I encourage civilians and military family members to eat clean,” she continued. “I encourage them to clean up their diets - from the typical standard American diet - to a cleaner diet, (by) incorporating leaner protein, good quality grains, good quality fats and more vegetables and fruits than anything.”
Ponder’s small office walls, her desk and bookshelves are covered with nutritional charts and literature filled with health and nutritional material.
Pointing to one of the numerous charts on one wall she said, “We encourage eating natural energy versus unnatural energy foods.”
Ponder gave several examples and facts to support her “clean eating” theory.
“You get your natural energy from fresh produce, such as cabbage, green leafy vegetables and kale — which is loaded with calcium — from your fresh fruit, such as kiwi, oranges, grapefruit and complex carbs,” she added, as she rattled off a list of natural energy sources.
“Consuming whole grains increase blood sugar at a slower rate, providing energy for a longer period of time, as opposed to refined grain, which leaves (one) feeling fuller,” Ponder said. “Your fiber is an energy stabilizer. (It helps) to (provide) lasting energy as well. Nuts, which are loaded with protein, are a great source of energy. (They) contain omega three fatty acids, which give muscles energy when exercising.”
Ponder emphasized the importance of staying hydrated. Her facts and research suggested that there is a correlation between dehydration and fatigue.
According to Ponder, the two “go hand-in-hand.” She further indicated how, on one hand, dehydration slows down the metabolism while, on the other hand, water helps to speed up the metabolism.
Ponder continued her nutritional review by comparing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated to saturated fats — “good fats versus bad fats.” Included in her discussion was the nutritional (or non-nutritional) value of specific foods, which she stated the average person consumed on a daily basis. She particularly targeted sugar and caffeine.
“Coffee is high in sugar and unnecessary calories,” Ponder said. “It has additive stimulants like caffeine, which are ok occasionally but not all the time. It is not good for your nervous system. Energy drinks are loaded with caffeine, which can cause dehydration if consumed in excess. You get instant energy because it’s high in sugar — but it causes you to crash later on.”
According to Ponder, soft drinks are on the “unnatural energy” food source chart.
“Sodas contain artificial sweeteners that cause increased sugar cravings,” she added. “There is no nutritional value, and it’s detrimental for drinkers who have diabetes. If you suffer from obesity, look at (the) ingredients listing. (Sodas) contain all kinds of preservatives, high fructose, corn syrup, additives and preservatives, things that really put a lot of stress and toxins in the body.”
After going through a myriad of nutritional data and recommendations, everything from avoiding deep fried foods and reading snack labels, to food preparations and cooking processes, Ponder offered one final suggestion.
“Count your cookies,” she concluded. “Most of them are loaded with trans fat. One cookie may contain about 350 calories. That is equivalent to a (single) meal. (An example of) a 350-calorie (meal) is a chicken breast, your vegetables, with a 1/4 cup of brown rice. You want to pace yourself on your pastries. If you want to (eat) these things make sure you do it in moderation.”
For more information on “clean eating” or to schedule an appointment on Mondays, Wednesdays or Thursdays, call 229-639-6234.