The Best Kind of Shot

In my very first post on this blog, “Meet Meat: The Key to a Healthy Body,” I mentioned that Italians are super humans. Why? Well, in sum, they essentially subsist on an all-carb diet and gelato and rarely (if ever) exercise, yet they do not struggle with obesity on a national scale.

Well, I have discovered part of their secret: espresso. Espresso is a low-calorie drink that, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database, contains roughly 64mg of caffeine per one fluid ounce.

You will notice that most Italians drink a shot of espresso after most meals, and espresso promotes weight-loss in addition to containing a MULTITUDE of other health benefits.

Take a deep breath- here we go…

  • The high caffeine content in espresso temporarily curbs hunger.
  • According to the journal “Nestle Nutrition Institute Workshop Series” (2013), consuming moderate amounts of caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and boosts energy levels.
  • The journal “Obesity” (2013) reports that consuming moderate amounts of caffeine reduces total calorie intake.
  • Espresso increases thermogenesis, meaning it increases your body’s heat production and burns approximately 80 extra calories per day.
  • Espresso contains many antioxidants – even more than acai, actually! In fact, a study conducted by the National Institute of Health demonstrated that those who drink at least four cups of coffee per day are 10% less likely to be depressed due to the high antioxidant content. A study conducted by the American Chemical Society also showed that drinking the same amount of caffeine reduces a person’s chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes by a whole 50%.
  • According to the ScienceDaily (2012), consuming moderate amounts of caffeine helps to prevent Parkinson’s disease.
  • For those of you who have chosen to really embrace the wine-centric Italian culture… Caffeine helps to protect against alcoholic cirrhosis, which is an autoimmune disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
  • TIME reporter, Michael Lemonick, says, “When you’re sleep-deprived and you take caffeine, pretty much anything you measure will improve: reaction time, vigilance, attention, logical reasoning — most of the complex functions you associate with intelligence.”

The moral of the story? Keep drinking coffee!! It does wonders.

I will continue to investigate the secrets of the Italian super humans.

Until next time.

Over and out.

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Does Acai Deserve All the Hype?

Especially during the summer, exploring the Eternal City is draining both mentally and physically. The unexpected changes in the street names will often challenge your navigation abilities; each monument, memorial, and museum is rich with history and meaning for you to digest; and each destination requires a sweaty trek to get there.

The other day while I was cruising through the streets of Rome, I happened to stumble upon the Italian Parliament. As you can probably guess from the way I discovered this building, I had gotten lost and discovered Parliament accidentally. It was 90 degrees Fahrenheit, I had gotten lost yet again, and, in the most dramatic manner, I declared to my friends that I could not carry on without food or coffee or SOMETHING.

Well, to my luck, the Italian Parliament is situated next to a little store called Acai and Friends. Acai is dark purple berry that comes from a South American palm tree, and they are often served in the form of a thick smoothie with various toppings of your choice. My tired friends and I were very excited because not only are acai bowls cold and delicious, but acai is also a renowned super food.

As I inhaled my acai bowl covered in granola, bananas, and coconut, I began to wonder whether acai warranted its status as a super food. It seems to be very rare that something so delicious could also be so healthy…

Well, it turns out acai is popular for good reason. The berry is incredibly rich in antioxidants, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. In fact, acai has more antioxidants than any other berry, which means that it is sometimes even used in cosmetics or other beauty products. Fiber is important to maintain a healthy digestive system, and antioxidants are important to protect cells from damage that can lead to certain diseases like cancer.

Acai berries are also touted as a weight-loss mechanism, but researchers are still in the process of proving – or disproving – this theory. Nonetheless, all berries are important in maintaining a healthy diet, which is crucial to losing weight.

So if you’re every feeling fatigued from touring room and need a quick pick-me-up, make sure to wander by the Italian Parliament and grab a refreshing, rejuvenating acai bowl.

But before you go telling everybody about this place and your love for acai bowls…. Acai is pronounced AH-SIGH-EE.

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Gelato vs. Ice Cream: Who Would Win in a Dessert Showdown?

What’s cold, colorful, and common in Rome? Here’s a hint: by “common,” I mean it can be found absolutely EVERYWHERE.

Yup, I’m talking about gelato! As if the all-carb diet wasn’t tempting enough, there are gelato shops to tempt you on every block.

With the well being of my blog as justification, I have stopped at an inordinate number of gelaterias. Through trial and error, it as become clear that certain gelaterias are superior to others.

In my – as well as Trip Advisor’s – opinion, the clear winner is (drum roll please)… Gelateria Frigidarium! This spot is a tiny little hole in the wall that is easy to miss if it weren’t for the endless line outside.

Frigidarium has a plethora of gelato flavors that are whipped up right behind the counter in the small kitchen, and they are uniquely smooth, rich and creamy. The gelato can be served in a cup, in a waffle cone, on a waffle, in a crepe, dipped in dark chocolate sauce, or topped with whipped cream.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? Maybe you’re drooling? Stick with me for a little longer – it gets better.

For most Americans, the go-to frozen dessert is ice cream. You may think that gelato’s richer flavor means it’s worse for your body than ice cream, but that is not the reality.

Gelato is actually less fattening than ice cream because, unlike ice cream, gelato is made with more milk than it is cream. The difference is drastic: ice cream tends to have approximately twice as much fat as gelato.

A high milk content also means fewer calories. On average, ice cream has 100 more calories than does gelato.

The result? No widespread obesity problem.

The reason, then, that gelato tastes richer and creamer than ice cream can be explained by two factors. First, a cup of Frigidarium’s delicacy has less air content than does ice cream. Second, gelato does not saturate human taste buds as much as ice cream, meaning that the flavor sensation is more intense. Gelato, subsequently, is a far more satisfying way to meet your sugar craving.

I think you can now begin to see how I have justified stopping at practically every gelateria I pass by…

Irish Coffee, Dark Chocolate, and After Eight
Irish Coffee, Dark Chocolate, and After Eight

The Food Essential You Cannot Live Without

Let me start here: If you are a vegetarian or vegan, consider changing your ways or fly back home. Meat platters are an incredibly popular starter dish in Rome. Oftentimes they are even large enough to be a sufficient entre – so much for smaller portions, right?

Hostaria Dino e Tony has one of the largest, most diverse meat platters, and it’s relatively cheap, too. All the meats are freshly cut, which is unique to Italy and improves the flavor significantly.

I have recently come to this conclusion: Italians are special humans. Somehow, they are able to consume an all-carb diet while avoiding the gym, and yet they do not struggle with the same obesity issues that Americans battle. So if you are not a super Italian and are trying to minimize your carb intake, Tony’s meat platter is for you because each bite is enjoyable with or withOUT bread.

This dish is also a great source of protein. Protein is a macronutrient, meaning that your body needs relatively large amounts of it daily. It is a crucial building block for your bones, skin, blood, muscles, and more. Without it, you may be left feeling weak or lethargic.

Your body may also begin to look flabby or noodle-y without adequate protein. In order to fully fight this appearance, however, you must pair your protein intake with a little exercise.

Now you have two options here: you can workout in a way that allows you to blends in or that makes you stick out like a sore thumb.

Because Italians are not workout-obsessive like Americans, you may choose to assimilate by getting your exercise in by walking to tourist attractions or walking along the Tiber River. Walking to tourist attractions like the Spanish Steps or the Coliseum is a great way to kill two birds with one stone, but, even if you don’t have a final destination in mind, cruising around Rome is a great way to learn the ins and outs of the city.

A stroll along the Tiber River is another option. There is a bike path that is easily accessible, and the scenery is beautiful. This route is also off the beaten path, meaning it’s an easy escape from the hustle-and-bustle and noise of the city.

On the other hand, if you do not care about essentially writing “FOREIGNER” on your forehead, you can run outside or join a nearby gym. The bike path along the Tiber River is also a great location to go for a jog, but odds are you will not pass another runner, aside from the occasional fellow foreigner.

There are also several gyms located around Rome that offer your basic gym equipment and classes. I recommend a small gym tucked into Trastevere called Lungotevere. Its specific location is not touristy, and they offer several spinning, Pilates, circuit training, and boxing classes to keep your body in fit and toned.

So to all my carnivore readers: go ahead! Indulge in all the meat platters you encounter because they are delicious and essential to keep your body running. It’s a win-win option.

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