October 4th, 2012

Healthy Philly Style Eating Tips from Your Favorite Philadelphia Personal Trainers

Yum! A Deeeeelicious Cheesesteak

Being a personal trainer in Philadelphia and staying lean is tough.

Look at what we, as Philadelphia natives are surrounded by. Cheesesteaks. Tastycakes. Carbohydrated pretzels which get covered with all manner of gooey, fatty sauces and chocolate.

Even our high end food trends these days feature tasty but clearly “questionable-from-a-nutrition-standpoint” foods. Pork belly might be  a delicious newfangled treat for Philadelphia Foodies but it ain’t helping them keep their youthful figures.

So what’s a Philadelphia fitness professional to do? Is it possible for us to keep true to our Delaware Valley roots and offer up eating suggestions to our clients which draw on our regional roots but favor a healthier diet?

You bet it is. Here at vTrainers, we took a few minutes out of our day to put together a list of five foods Philadelphians love which actually have a place in a healthy training diet.

Here’s our take:


Lighten up on the pork, pile on the rabe…

Places like John’s and Dinic’s have been serving up classic Philadelphia pork sandwiches for decades. Dieters and fitness fanatics frequently assume they need to completely give up on fat and carb filled indulgences like pork sandwiches but, with a little inventiveness, these treats can still find a place at your table. Here are three simple changes you could make to make a Philly pork sandwich healthier:

  • Invert the amounts of rabe and pork. In a traditional pork sandwich with broccoli rabe and provolone, the pork predominates. But it doesn’t need to. The next time you make a pork sandwich at home, try using less pork and more rabe.
  • Believe it or not, it’s possible to get lighter versions of even traditional cheeses such as provolone that taste great. For instance, here in Philly, Trader Joes makes a light provolone and Sargento also makes a light provolone which is available in local grocery stores.
  • Most traditional pork sandwiches are made with fattier cuts of pork, such as shoulder. The next time you’re planning a tailgating party for your friends, why not use a leaner cut of pork, such as a loin? You’ll lose none of the flavor and save about 33% of the fat.

Soft Pretzel

Pretzels can be an instant energy source; just spare anything gooey or chocolaty…

The bottom line on the traditional Philly pretzel is that its nutritional value is mixed. Basically, pretzels are pure carbohydrates and can be used as energy food by athletes whose principle sports are cardio-intensive. If you’re a runner, cyclist, swimmer, etc., pretzels can be a decent energy source. However, pretzels have virtually no other nutritive value except as an energy food, so eat them sparingly. Or, better yet, combine them with a fiber-rich piece of fruit. And stick to mustard as an accompaniment.


And, finally, stay away from the Tastykakes (except for special occasions…)

We really wanted to figure out a way to endorse the eating of TastyKakes as part of a healthy, weight-loss oriented workout diet. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t. Save those TastyKake fantasies for the occasional birthday celebration or treat yourself after you’ve lost that first twenty pounds. Beyond that, they’re best left in their boxes on your grocer’s shelf.

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