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Is Pho Healthy or Not? Will I Gain Weight If I Have It Often?

Is Pho Healthy or Not? Will I Gain Weight If I Have It Often?

A warm bowl of pho soup is everyone’s favorite these days. Made with a blend of broth, meat, rice noodles, and topped with vegetables, pho has it all from a nutritional standpoint. But there’s also talk about pho being unhealthy due to its high sodium content and that it was even fattening. Whether pho is good or bad for you depends on the specific recipe, your choice of condiments, and portion size.

Many of us tend to go overboard with our portion sizes when given a variety of options of meat, veggies etc.

Most of us have had their first bowl pho at our local Vietnamese restaurants where customers are given a variety of options of meat, veggies, serving size, and condiments. No wonder, so many of us tend to go overboard with our portion sizes with that much freedom available. You’ve probably asked yourself at one point is pho healthy and will it ruin your waistline?[1] This is especially true if you eat pho on an almost daily basis and feel guilty about it. Another thing that may make you feel weary about pho is that you don’t see this traditionally Vietnamese dish being recommended as a weight-loss and health promoting option. Instead, you are more likely to hear pho referred to as an unhealthy fast-food or street-food.

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Hearing talk of pho being one of those unhealthy restaurant meals can kill all the fun around this popular noodle soup. Well, we’re here to tell you that pho can be a big part of even the best diet plan if you eat it moderately and if you customize it wisely.[2] On the downside, many low-quality restaurant versions tend to be high in saturated fat and sodium, so this can get a bit tricky. Studies show that too much fat in your diet can lead to weight gain, a higher risk of diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.[3] Furthermore, too much sodium in your daily diet can cause hypertension and damage your heart, kidneys, and blood vessels.

Pho is healthy only when…

While pho may come with its downsides, you can customize this delicious Vietnamese dish to make it more healthful. Compared to other fast-food dishes, a small serving of pho is quite balanced in nutrients and pretty low in calories. For instance, an appetizer serving size of chicken pho contains only 162 calories.[4] Of this, 32% of the calories come from fat, 32% come from carbohydrates, and 36% of the calories in one cup of pho come from protein. On the other hand, a meal-sized portion of pho may provide up to 400 calories which are only 20% of the recommended daily intake of calories.

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As you can see, good quality pho isn’t the highly fattening fast food it was made up to be. This is especially true with pho that was made using traditional methods. Traditionally, pho was made by cooking beef bones or chicken for a very long time, and the excess fat at the top was removed. Restaurant versions may skip this last step, but high-end restaurants make it a priority to make their meals healthy and delicious. But other than providing you with a modest number of calories, pho is also great for meeting your vitamin and mineral needs. Pho is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Depending on how much veggies you like to include, you can also get plenty of fiber from your bowl of pho.

How to make your pho healthful

Enjoying pho and getting plenty of health benefits with it is possible is you make the right decisions. First, it is best to look for a Vietnamese restaurant serving traditional pho instead of the fast-food version. As we’ve already explained, some restaurants skip skimming the excess fat from their pho broth making for an unhealthier soup version. Secondly, when customizing your pho at your favorite restaurant, be careful no tot go overboard with certain ingredients. Too much rice noodles will cause a spike in your blood glucose and make a meal fattening. Similarly, adding more than your fair share of meat cuts to your bowl of pho will pack on the extra calories. Instead, be generous with vegetable topping when customizing your pho. Veggies like bean sprouts, jalapenos, and onions will control your blood glucose levels, and their fiber content will keep you feeling full.

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But other than customizing your pho bowl to suit your health-conscious lifestyle, why not play it safe and make a homemade version instead? While Pho is traditionally made over the course of one to two days, there are plenty pho recipes requiring just a fraction of that time. With homemade pho, you get to have more control over the amount of fat, protein, and carbs you consume with each portion. We suggest opting for homemade chicken pho because chicken is leaner than beef.

We also suggest being moderate with condiments like soy sauce and siracha sauce. While these sauces help make pho taste great, they are very high in sodium. Restaurant versions also tend to go overboard with the sodium in pho to make it more palatable. But as already explained, this practice can be dangerous for your overall health. Instead, add only a tiny bit of sauces and salt to your pho, just enough to remove any blandness. You can also be playful with your topping and add spring onions or broccoli even. Make sure to read about low-calorie foods and benefits of broccoli before making your homemade pho.[5]

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Whether or not pho is healthy varies greatly from one version to the other. Traditional pho served with skimmed broth, a moderate serving of noodles, a tiny bit of sauce, and a generous helping of veggies is nutritious and possibly healthy. On the other hand, fast-food versions packed in sodium and saturated fat may not be the best choice for a daily meal. To get around this problem, pho lovers can customize their bowls by adding more veggies, being skimpy with condiments, and adding noodles moderately.

Featured photo credit: KQED via google.com

Reference

[1]Healthy Dining Finder: What’s the Best Pho to Order?
[2]Consumer Health Digest: Best Diet Plan: 6 Ways to Choose an Effective Diet Plan
[3]Guldstrand, M. C., & Simberg, C. L.: High-fat diets: healthy or unhealthy?
[4]Fat Secret: Chicken pho
[5]Consumer Health Digest: List of Low Calorie Foods

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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