Archive for the ‘The News-Press Column’ Category
Ever heard the term “Weekend Warriors?” These fun-loving, sports-minded folks work hard then occasionally decide to have some fun by participating in an activity that’s new (or old and dear). The problem is, their body isn’t conditioned through diet and exercise for what’s about to happen, and the result is often an injury … sometimes a bad injury.
Common catalysts for weekend warrior syndrome are spring thaw, reunions, holidays, turning 40, turning 50, New Year’s resolutions and your teen’s friends playing ball in the lot next door. There are abundant opportunities to “jump right in” and although your heart’s in the right place, you could pay a big price later.
I’ve fallen victim to this scenario myself. I work out on a regular basis and eat well, but recently I played a charity softball game, a sport that I used to play in my younger years … and I could not get out of bed on Monday. I also could not use my Blackberry because my hands hurt so bad.
Had I at least been doing some type of similar activity before that game, or stretching the body parts I knew I’d be using, I might have had a fighting chance. Changing from a flat gym floor to uneven earth or rolling trails or sloped beaches can also cause issues. Imagine what the 50th-birthday-but-20-mile-bike-ride might do to an office worker.
If we’re not used to using certain muscles, we make ourselves prime candidates for debilitating or highly irritating injuries. I was thinking about the various ways to keep the body prepared for the occasional odd activity, and came across a great quote on the Internet: “Men over 40 should be fit for their sport rather than using their sport to get fit,” it said. This surely applies to everyone contemplating a sudden, big burst of athleticism.
The easiest way to avoid injury is the one requiring the most discipline: don’t do too much of anything that’s new. Start out in moderation, play part of the game, do 5 miles instead of 20. You could save yourself a stress fracture or a couple of very uncomfortable weeks.
Flexibility and stretching are key, too, so if you know you have a new sport ahead, start working that part of the body, stretching daily, and always stretch after a workout to gain flexibility. A balanced diet and proper weight is always a good idea. Hauling an extra 30 pounds around a make-believe football field is tough.
Here’s another tip: A lack of magnesium can lead to muscle weakness and cramps. Magnesium is lost via sweat, so regular exercisers and even saunagoers need to take in enough magnesium rich foods or supplement magnesium. But after a spontaneous workout, you’d do well to have some on hand.
Weekend warriors can benefit from maintaining a healthy mineral balance. Think of magnesium as your “muscle mineral.” The FDA recommends 310-420 mg daily for most adults.
Here are a few magnesium-rich foods if, like me, you prefer a healthy diet to taking lots of supplements: 3 ounces of halibut, 90 gm; 1 ounce dry roasted almonds, 80 gm; 1 ounce dry roasted cashews, 75 gm; 1/2 cup cooked soybeans, 75 gm; 1/2 cup frozen spinach, 75 gm; 1 ounce mixed dry roasted nuts, 65 gm; 2 biscuits of Shredded Wheat cereal 55 gm; 1 cup instant fortified oatmeal, 55 gm.
I also like to keep resistance bands all around me: tied to doors, in my travel bag, in front of the TV, wrapped around the legs and arms of my chairs. A good 10-minute workout with bands can be great if done right.
So if your college roomie has challenged you to a tennis rematch from days gone by … start working the “pushing” muscles on your chest wall, and get your shoulder primed for action. Do some sideways motion drills, and start taking magnesium. If it’s been a while, you’re going to need it!
If you’re going to mess around with whey, there are some things you need to consider. And recent news makes the topic even more important for those adding supplements to their shakes.
Remember Little Miss Muffet? Nobody ever told us, but she was lactose tolerant. How do we know? Because she was happily eating her “curds and whey.” Those of us not raised in Wisconsin are less likely to be familiar with these two words but they’re both dairy products.
Curds are made by curdling milk with an acidic substance like vinegar or lemon juice. The liquid portion which is drained off is whey. Whey is also a liquid by-product of cheese production. After childhood poems, the most popular exposure to whey is in “Whey protein,” commonly added to shakes by athletes, exercisers, body builders and people trying to gain muscle. It might surprise you to learn that whey is often hiding in our food products, even “non-dairy” items which are processed and prepared.
This is part of what makes trying a dairy-free lifestyle so difficult. To help sort through the nutrition labels, use this comprehensive list of the most common dairy ingredients present in foods. Whey is present in a variety of processed and prepared food products. Whey protein is composed of lactalbumin and lactalglobulin, and is found in both food products and health supplements. Other common forms of whey present in food products are sweet whey, whey powder, whey protein, whey protein concentrate, and whey protein hydrolysate.)
Here’s some great news for active adults. Even if they’re lactose intolerant, athletes, exercisers, body builders and people who want to gain lean muscle can still consume protein by using collagen instead of whey. It can be taken before and after activity: to pre-load before a workout, or to help with recovery after exercise.
Check the label and be sure the collagen protein you are choosing contains NO added whey. Some “newer” collagen proteins, such as AminoRip, contain NO lactose, NO dairy, NO carbs, NO fats, NO sugar, NO high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), NO sorbitol, NO gluten, NO soy, and NO whey.
Here’s another reason to pay attention to your choice of protein supplement. Consumer reports testing found that due to contamination, some “protein shakes” exceeded United States Pharmacopeia (USP) standards for exposure to heavy metals when three or more servings were consumed a day. Failing the heavy metal test were some of our most popular protein shakes, including EAS’s Myoplex and Cytosport’s Muscle Milk.
It’s easy to forget that whey protein is a dairy product, and important to remember that collagen is an alternative protein. If a person is, in fact, lactose intolerant, then ingesting whey protein can cause him or her to experience great discomfort with symptoms like abdominal discomfort, belly cramps, diarrhea, nausea, itch or watery eyes, and even possible asthma attacks. The more you consume, the more severe the symptoms would be.
Whey protein doesn’t cause the problem, but because you’re taking large amounts in a shake, symptoms can manifest themselves for the first time in people who generally are capable of handling small amounts of lactose. Lactose intolerance is different than a milk allergy, but people often confuse the two because the symptoms can be identical (bloating, stomach pain). These two conditions are not related, however. It’s the immune system which is reacting to a milk allergy.
Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, is all about the digestive system. Lactose intolerant folk don’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down the sugar in milk. Amazingly, it’s estimated that 75% of all people decrease in production of lactase during adulthood. The intolerance really ramps in during childhood, though, particularly for Mexican Americans who jump from 18% at age two to a whopping 47% by age 10. That’s a lot of potential tummy aches.
Non-dairy products may also contain lactose. If you know – or even suspect – that you’re lactose intolerant, then spend some time reading product labels. Any of the following ingredients mean the product has lactose: dry milk solids, nonfat dry milk powder, milk by-products, curds, and whey. It’s also good to know that dairy products which are “fat reduced” or fat free” generally present higher lactose, as do low fat foods, which often incorporate dairy solids.
I think I’ve milked this topic for all it’s worth and now I have a stomach ache. See you again next week.
Smoothies are a great snack or meal replacement (and a mobile one at that). They’re especially healthy as a meal replacement if you follow my recommended pattern of eating five to six small meals per day.
Smoothies can also be effective for weight gain or weight loss and are super for helping you stay healthy. It’s all about what goes in the blender, and the beauty of smoothies is that you can customize them not only to your taste, but also to your dietary needs.
If, for example, you need a pick-me-up to aid in recovery after an athletic event or exercise, use orange juice, apple juice, skim milk, ice, soymilk, pineapple juice, Gatorade, water or low-fat chocolate milk as the liquid base. I typically recommend liquid recovery over solid because it’s absorbed faster, is quick to intake and easier to talk someone into doing if they’re hesitant to eat after a workout.
There’s also the rehydration factor.
I recommend smoothies and liquid supplements for the same reasons: they’re easier to consume, and have a faster availability of nutrients due to shorter transit time from ingestion to utilization. The science of nutrition says, quite simply, that liquids simply have a faster absorption rate.
If you’re trying to add protein to your diet, blend natural peanut butter, skim milk or almonds into your smoothie. Green tea smoothies can aid in weight loss as well as give you a healthy dose of antioxidants. I recommend Stevia, Agave and Splenda when you want to add sweetener.
At our house, we use frozen strawberries, banana, cranberry grape juice, AminoRip protein supplement and ice. If we want to make more of a shake, we add skim milk, or just replace the cran-grape with skim milk. When making smoothies for my 14-year-old son, however, I would use all of the above and replace skim milk with whole milk.
After-school snacks that include protein are another way to power-pack your kids with nutrient-dense foods. Almond milk, kale, cacao nibs and vanilla rice protein make a really good smoothie.
Keep your fridge stocked with smoothie ingredients and you’ll be far more likely to whip up a healthy treat for yourself, your friends or family. Buy fresh fruit in season and freeze it.
Yogurt smoothies made with frozen bananas or strawberries are terrific. Some of the tastiest fruits for smoothies include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, banana, apples, pineapple and peaches.
Get creative in how you mix them, and make yourself happy. Experimentation can lead to some wonderful surprises for your palate. It’s that easy.
Frozen fruit smoothies are a quick, nutritious breakfast food, hydrating you early and giving your body the full range of nature’s bioavailable vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. They’re also full of natural fiber and help boost the immune system. You sure can’t say that about a donut.
I love my Magic Bullet blender and the manufacturer has a ton of great smoothie recipes on its “Buy the Bullet” company website. Share your favorite recipe with me via the comments column at The News-Press.com, or on my Facebook page, and I will post the recipe, along with my thoughts, and/or recommended changes.
Don’t be tempted to skip a meal, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Substitute a smoothie instead. And if the thought of cleaning a blender is making your resistant to this oh-so-healthy option, I have fallen prey to that myself. Just head straight for Smoothie King. You might see me there!
(Originally in print in The News-Press, a Gannett daily paper serving southwest Florida, under the column Nutrition Notes. To see in its original form, until archive is deleted: http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20105110308 )
Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian and owner of Associates in Nutrition Therapy in Fort Myers. Hastings can be contacted at Elaine@associatesinnutrition.com or by visiting AssociatesinNutrition.com. Follow her on Twitter @elainehastings
For more on the Get Fit Lee challenge, visit www.GetFitLee.com. Take the Challenge, Change your Life!
©2009 Associates in Nutrition Therapy. All Rights Reserved.
By March, many people find their good resolutions for healthy eating and exercise have fallen by the wayside. Statistics show that just six months after the New Year, more than half of those who made resolutions have broken them. Fortunately, you can still resolve to change; it is never too late to renew your commitment to improving your health.
If you have fallen back into your old habit of grabbing a quick doughnut or pastry treat early in the morning for convenience, remind yourself one doughnut contains more than 300 calories and is high in carbohydrates, fats and sugars. That one seemingly innocent treat can send your blood sugar soaring.
Your body may feel a sudden energy surge, but this will be spent quickly. Then your system will go through a rebound that can make you feel extremely tired and out of sorts.
This is the beginning of a seesaw effect in your body that is often fueled by snack foods high in sugar and carbohydrates. Remember how difficult it was to balance a seesaw perfectly on the playground? This balancing act is what you are forcing your body to do when you eat foods that contain no real nutrition, but are heavily loaded with unhealthy fats, sugars and simple carbohydrates.
So just exactly what do you need to eat if you want to get back on the path to good nutrition and health? For starters you need to avoid fad diets and stay clear of foods filled with empty calories, sugars and fats.
Here are a few basic guidelines to get you on the right track.
- Opt for a dietary program that is packed with whole grains, fruits, veggies as well as some healthy fats and oils.
- Be sure your daily meals contain good carbohydrates such as whole grains; do not eliminate all carbohydrates from your diet.
- Include plenty of fiber by eating a variety of fruits, veggies and whole grains.
- Choose lean, healthy protein sources such as poultry, nuts, fish and beans.
- Limit saturated and trans fats; choose oils that come from nuts, fish and plant sources.
- Select calcium-rich foods such as skim or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and vegetables.
- Add color to your plate by choosing a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Limit your use of salt and enjoy the rich, luscious flavors of the foods or add salt-free seasonings to enhance natural flavors.
- Plan ahead by creating a healthy shopping list or selecting restaurants that offer nutritious selections.
- Track your meals, exercise and medical information online or through a food diary such as the Get Fit Lee program, a local health initiative challenging Lee County residents to collectively lose one million pounds of body fat, GetFitLee.com.
Often, making changes slowly can help you be more successful in creating new habits. Try incorporating one or more of these recommendations into your lifestyle each week. Over time, you will find that these nutritious choices will give you more fuel for your day and help improve your chances of successfully reaching your goals.