Posts Tagged ‘fitness’
Hand me a drum, it’s National Nutrition Month. For people who are making an effort to live a healthier life, this month presents a great opportunity for inspiration; there will be great nutrition tips everywhere. Here are a few of my own (and this column might be a good one to clip for the refrigerator door).
Snack light. Snacking is unavoidable for all but a few, so why not just control the part you can? Kids follow good examples, so have fruit and veggies cut up and ready to enjoy, for both your sakes.
The freezer is your friend. Keep it stocked with fruits and veggies, too; they’re just as healthy as fresh, and then you can toss them into whatever you’re making.
Soft can be good. Soft fats (like olive oil) are so much better for you than hard fats (lard).
Deep Color, Good Health. Vivid, colorful vegetables (carrots, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes) are more nutrient-dense than pale celery, cucumbers, and mushrooms. Blue and purple fruits contain flavonoids (the most powerful phytochemicals in nature). Phytochemicals decrease the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and more.
Avoid Cereal Killers. Choose cereals that contain at least 3 grams (g) fiber/serving, and no more than 6 g sugar/serving. And no trans fats!
Pack at Night. Preparing your next lunch before bedtime avoids a last-minute, access-and hunger-driven purchase of processed food. These few minutes of preparation can dramatically change the quality of your weekly intake. Stock your workspace with healthy snacks for preventive nutrition: whole-grain crackers, trail mix, fruit cups.
Fewer Legs, Fewer Risks. Meat which used to live on two legs is healthier for you than its four-legged counterparts. Protein that used to swim is packed with omega-3 fatty acids: great for your heart. Save cows and pigs for occasional indulgences, and think of them that way.
Be Pro-Digestion. Digestive health starts with fluid consumption, fiber intake, exercise, stress reduction and probiotics. Be proactive.
100 x 365 = 10. Cutting 100 calories per day could result in losing 10 pounds per year. That’s one fruity drink, the cheese on a burger, or a bag of chips. Smart substitutions pay off.
Fruit Juice: Upgrade, Downsize Switch from regular juice to calcium-fortified juice, but beware the serving size. Juice is not calorie-free, by any means.
No Curves Ahead. Decrease your risk of osteoporosis. Eat (and drink) calcium-rich foods for bone strength and density. Exercise helps too.
Life’s a Bowl of Cherries. Dried or fresh cherries are rich in vitamin C and fiber. They boost heart health, reduce the risk of cancer, and are rich in melatonin (which helps sleep).
My Take on the Cs. Carbohydrates do not cause fat. Calories do.
Be Proactive in Restaurants. A meal out can be healthier than the menu indicates. Ask for whole grain foods and brown rice. These are easy substitutions which make a difference.
Fiber Fights Hunger. Breads, cereals and pastas rich in fiber fight hunger urges and help with weight management. Just watch your serving sizes.
You don’t have to be a hard-core athlete to appreciate endurance. Sometimes we want to push ourselves physically, for all sorts of reasons. Walking 18 holes. Winning the football game. Playing doubles. Running that annual 5K. A long bike ride on Saturday.
So it’s “competition” day . . . now what? You may have trained and trained, but have you consistently fueled your body with the right substances (foods and fluids)? It really matters what fuel you choose; why wouldn’t it? And the body’s energy is finite: if it’s not resupplied, it will run out. Push it hard, it runs out faster. Fuel incorrectly, and all your training will be for naught. What a pity.
Here are some Keys to give you a competitive edge. They will unlock a new level of physical success for you, in whatever arena you need it.
Key #1. Plan, plan, plan. You already know you need to prepare physically for an event. But even more key is planning ahead nutritionally. Take time to learn how starches, carbs, protein and hydration fuel the body for highly physical endeavors, and how they’re also used to help it recover quickly, building lean muscle tissue as a result. I’ve given you some great starter tips below.
Key #2. Practice, practice, practice . . . but I don’t mean training! Literally practice your “competition day” eating before that important event. A coach once told me ‘ if you put the maximum effort into your practice, you will have the maximum benefit during your game days.’ Now I tell all my athletes that same thing.
Key #3. Fuel properly the night before. The big pre-competition “no-no’s” are 1) anything with a lot of sugar; 2) fried or spicy foods; 3) high fat foods: gravies, sauces, creamy soups, fatty meats. And DON’T try any foods you’ve never eaten before.
Key #4. Same no-no’s apply on game day. Eat starches approximately 3-4 hours prior to your event, and make the portions slightly smaller than normal meal. They give you “timed-release” energy. About 30-60 minutes before starting the event, top off your tank with fluids and a small snack (a piece of fruit or granola bar).
Key #5. During your competition (or on tournament days with multiple events or games) make sure you’re drinking at least 8-12 ounces of fluids between each game or event. Eat a healthy snack – such as yogurt, a sports bar or trail mix – between each game and event. If you’re exercising for longer than an hour without taking a long break, you need to keep refueling during the event, with foods like pretzels, fruit, granola or fruit snacks. Remember: drink plenty of fluids!
Key #6. When in doubt DON’T go without! Some people find that liquids are easier on their stomachs while they exercise. But what’s in the liquid is critical. Don’t go without proteins or nutrients; try chocolate milk, smoothies, or meal replacement shakes.
Got it? Plan ahead, practice, hydrate and don’t go without fuel.
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, lower your sugar intake for overall well-being, or wean your kids off sugar, you need to recognize sugar in its many forms. It’s amazing how many different words mean “sugar” on the contents label of a food or drink.
It’s also unbelievable how many food products include sugar in one form or another. To boost to your wellness plan, you have to know sugar terminology, and you have to know how to interpret the label (and teach your kids). The top three ingredients listed on the label are primary, so if you see a sugary term there, the product is loaded.
Some ingredients to watch out for: corn sweeteners, evaporated can juice, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, confectioner’s sugar, dextrin, honey, invert sugar, maple sugar, raw sugar, malt molasses, turbinado sugar, brown and white sugars.
I was also taught, while earning my dietitian degree, that “if it ends in OSE, it means sugar.”
Sucrose, lactose, dextrose and maltose … Watch out!
Sugar has invaded many products where you don’t expect to find it. I’m talking about things such as salad dressings, canned foods, pasta sauces, lunchmeats, “healthy” cereals and granola bars, dried fruit snacks, and more.
It’s no wonder the average American consumes 128 pounds of sugar per year. Prepared foods are hiding pounds of sugar, and adding pounds of fat, especially to our kids, who are at grave risk for diabetes. (Ouch, that hurts me to just write that).
Hopefully you’re aware how much sugar is packed into a regular soda, but sports and energy drinks are culprits that often fly under the radar. Because their purpose is “beneficial,” these drinks make it easy to forget that their labels are also important. But that 20-ounce Powerade you rely on to hydrate you has more than 8 teaspoons of sugar in it!
Some other big offenders (teaspoons of sugar per drink in ounces)
- Propel: 1.5 tsp per 16 ounces
- Vitamin Water: 7 tsp per 20 ounces (this one surprised me).
- Regular Powerade: 8.3 tsp per 20 ounces *
* Powerade and Gatorade do have low sugar options.
- Full Throttle: 13.8 tsp per 16 ounces
- Jolt Energy: 22.3 tsp per 23.5 ounces
- Amp: 7.3 tsp per 8.4 ounces
- Monster: 12.8 tsp per 16 ounces
Other drinks that pack in the sugar
- 7-up: 9 tsp sugar per 12 ounces
- A & W Cream Soda: 11 tsp sugar per 12 ounces
- Average cola: 10 tsp per 12 ounces
- Nestlé’s Ice Tea: 8-14 tsp sugar per 16-20 ounces
The bottom line: high sugar intakes are contributing to an epidemic of obesity in this country.
I’ve long been a proponent of giving yourself a little food or beverage treat now and then. It’s the perfect way to reward yourself for a full week of eating healthy and respecting your body.
I got a kick out of hearing ESPN report tonight (during a game) that the Florida State Seminole football team gets a “cheat day” on Mondays. The team nutritionist apparently lets them relax their nutritional standards one day a week, to keep them on course.
The reporter also added that “if the team wins, they get to choose their meal, and their favorite is honey-fried chicken.”
Obviously a southern team ! LOL
I’ve worked with several teams and always look forward to helping them achieve their goals. My 80/20 rule says that 80% of effective athletic training is nutrition: the fuel you put in the body.
If any Noles find this blog, congrats on having an impressive 2010 football season with your new coach!
It’s football season! Many of us wait anxiously for fall and all the fantastic on-field mash-ups it brings. Whether you’re watching your own kids at a nearby ball field, setting up a full-fledged tailgate party in a parking lot, or hosting a big watch party, you do have healthy menu options that are still tasty!
Let’s talk about dogs. A great alternative to the traditional hot dog is a turkey brat. Here’s the trick: boil them in beer. They’ll come out with a lot of flavor, and you’ll have just saved about 300 calories and 26 g of fat. Soak them in mustard for even more flavor. If you’re counting calories, eat yours without the bun (but you already knew that).
My favorite kebabs don’t even require a grill – how easy is that? Load your skewers with varying combinations of the following: cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cubes, artichoke hearts and black olives. Put them in a pan and drizzle them with low-fat Balsalmic vinaigrette or low-fat Italian dressing. These Italian-style “hearty skewers” are very filling . . . and delicious.
If you or your gang likes wings, swap out boneless, skinless chicken for wings. Experiment with marinades and sauces until you find one you like best. I like a nice lemon-mustard marinade, and a light honey mustard is also goof. You can even use barbecue sauce since you’ve given up the chicken skin. If you find a sauce that simulates the traditional flavor of wings, by all means, cut up some celery to accompany, but opt for low-fat or fat-free sour cream.
A boiled shrimp tray is a nice way to throw a little protein at your gang without a lot of fat, and cocktail sauce isn’t on my no-no list. These also require no cooking, another big plus!
I don’t have to tell you that a raw veggie platter is 100% healthy and satisfies the urge to crunch and chew. But if you absolutely have to have something salty, swap out your regular chips and dip for baked chips and salsa. Lays and Doritos both come in a baked version. The salsa cuts out all the calories and fat found in the sour cream which serves as a base for so many dips. You can also look for vegetable chips, which provide both a salty satisfaction and crunch.
When it comes time to load the cooler with beverages, keep thinking “light.” Light beer saves an average of 50 calories per beer. Of course I advocate for moderation when it comes to beer, and the waistline on your pants will back me up on this.
Stay away from regular sodas; opt for unsweetened tea instead, or add Stevia. You can also make your own lemonade, using soda, lemon and Stevia. Throw lots of bottled water in the cooler, and remember to drink a lot of water before you eat. You’ll be surprised how much that “full” feeling cuts down your appetite.
Think of this as your Fantasy Football Menu. Keep making trades until you’re lean and happy!
Exercise requires energy, pure and simple. But where does it come from? The answer is glycogen. But what is it?
When we digest food we’ve eaten, the carbohydrates are broken down by our bodies into glucose, and then the glucose is stored in our muscles . . . as glycogen. During periods of exercise, this process reverses, and glycogen converts to glucose once again, so that is may be used for energy. How long we “last” is greatly influenced by how much glycogen we have stored in our muscles.
Exercise that lasts less than 90 minutes is typical for most of us. Carbs typically provide 40-50% of our energy in the beginning stages of moderate exercise. What the body naturally stores will sustain you through a workout of this length.
But as the intensity of physical activity increases, the body’s carbohydrate consumption increases too. For events over 90 minutes, eat a heavy-carb diet for 2-3 days prior.
Picture the muscles like porous rocks. The more glycogen is filling all those crevices, the more energy reserves we have to draw upon. This is why cyclists, marathoners, triathletes, soccer players and other endurance athletes excel when they’ve pre-loaded for 2-3 days with about 70% carbs. Glycogen is the fuel which sustains the body in highly physical situations.
Have you heard the term “hitting the wall?” This refers to an actual event in the body, the depletion of glycogen. Once stores are gone, energy is truly kaput; you have no way to generate more.
Don’t assume you should eat a high-carb diet all the time, though, even if you exercise heavily. Once glycogen fills all the areas where reserves can be stored, any extra that is produced is stored as body fat. Eating too many carbs causes this excessive glycogen production.
Another danger of overdoing carb consumption: you can unwittingly “train” your body not to utilize essential fatty acids that come from fat. Not only does fat transport cholesterol and play a role in blood clotting, it helps us absorb vitamins and produce hormones.
Conversely, eating too few carbs forces the body to use protein for energy. The body will actually start to break down protein – the building blocks for muscles, bone, and other tissues – meaning you put yourself into a sort of self-cannibalization. Your body starts to feed on its own muscles and you lose muscle mass. This is also tough on kidneys. Not a pretty thought.
So strike a happy balance between protein, carbs and fat, and remember lean protein, high fiber and unsaturated fats as your first choice. It’s all about balance and timing: my 80/20 rule. Athletic training is 80% nutrition, 20% training. Get the food right, you have a bonafide mega-advantage over the competition.
Michelle Ciuffetelli, a Certified Personal Trainer in Fort Myers, Florida, says her favorite carbs are oatmeal (filling and a good source of fiber); sweet potatoes; fruit (a great snack); Arnold Sandwich Thins (good fiber); and Flat Out wraps (taste great, can wrap anything).
Now get moving. That’s a wrap!
What cyclists eat and drink determines how fast and how far they can ride. What are your goals? Recreation, competitive racing, or heavy-duty triathlons? Even recreational riders should pay attention to their diet; maximize your ride and get the body you want. All athletes and exercisers need energy to function.
Many cyclists avoid caffeine, knowing it’s a diuretic, but here’s a surprise. During endurance exercise, the dehydrating qualities of caffeine are practically nil with small amounts of caffeine. And studies have shown that it may help the body burn fat, rather than carbohydrate reserves.
Coffee is not an ideal source of caffeine for exercisers or athletes – therefore, don’t think you can justify your Starbucks habit. We have only 1,500-3,000 calories of reserve carbs, but the body stores 70,000 fat calories at any given time, so burn, baby, burn.
Each hour of an intense bike ride will use 500-1,000 calories. Your overall protein needs will increase during exercise; supplement at 1.2-2. g protein per kilogram of body weight per day depending on your intensity and length of exercise.
For endurance events, you can increase your carbs three days prior. This maximizes the body’s glycogen stores. While you ride, you need 30-60 g of carbs for each hour beyond the first hour. An energy bar works.
Practice eating while you ride and don’t change your food choice on race day. Remember, fat can contribute as much as 75 percent of your energy demands during endurance training. Keep foods simple.
During a ride in hot weather, the body’s ability to digest becomes compromised. Liquid foods avoid this situation, and keep you speeding along without much hassle. Certain energy drinks can fill the bill, as does an Ensure protein drink, available in any drug store.
Ensure also comes in powder form; having baggies of it allows you to add it to water, drink a meal, and continue on. You can also mix fruit juice and water for a source of hydration, carbs and sugar for your blood.
How’d you like to burn 350-500 calories per hour, doing something that’s refreshing and widely available? If your answer’s yes, then go put on your swimsuit and keep reading. Swimming is great exercise, whether you do it casually or in a serious, “endurance sport” manner.
Triathletes must make diet their primary focus if they want to significantly improve their performance. But for any type of athletic conditioning, nutrition is at least 80 percent of the formula, and training makes up no more than 20 percent.
Keys to the 80/20 formula are quality, quantity, and timing of nutrients … learning not only what to eat but also “how and when” will maximize results in triathlons, multiple-sport activities, and even for recreational exercisers. Developing good eating habits every day can make the difference between great training/exercise/events, and just struggling through.
Note that I said “habits.” Eating well can become a habit over time, one you no longer have to think about, or feel burdened by in any way. Commit to the concept of positive, life-enhancing, sport-enhancing long-term change through diet, and over time, you will develop this good habit just as easily as people develop bad ones.
Now, back to the pool. Is there any truth to the phrase “no swimming until one hour after you’ve eaten?” Yes, a bit, but only if you’re planning on swimming with extreme intensity, as in a triathlon.
Recreational swimming falls in a different category. You, your children or grandchildren can all swim or play in the pool after eating. Frolicking with a full belly is perfectly safe.
In fact, if you plan to swim in the morning – especially just after rising from a night’s sleep – eat something. Engaging in vigorous exercise on an empty stomach will cause you to suffer. You’ll feel weak, possibly dizzy, perhaps sick to your stomach. Certainly your workout will be a poor one and most likely will have to be cut short.
After sleep, your blood sugar is low. So have a snack before you hit the pool.
Swimming is less demanding than running or cycling for pre-activity nutrition. Even fruit, toast or a sports drink will do, to elevate the blood sugar a bit. Hydration before or during swimming is not much of an issue because you won’t overheat in water, but hydration after swimming restores electrolyte balance.
In all three triathlon sports, post-workout nutrition should occur within 30 minutes of stopping, when the body is most receptive to carbs for replacing glycogen lost during the workout. Ingesting protein will help muscles recover and rebuild stronger.
Women swimmers especially need to be aware of the potential for iron and/or calcium deficiencies. Lacking either or both of these essential minerals will affect performance.
Remember the 80/20 rule and decide now to develop good habits. It does not matter how hard or how much you exercise; good nutrition and healthy eating habits are the crucial component. Next week we’ll discuss nutrition for cycling.
Whether you’re a triathlete, a recreational or endurance runner, or even a power walker, your body relies on proper fuel to do what you ask it to do. Training will take you only so far, no matter how religiously you do it. Here’s a surprising statistic I mentioned last week: nutrition counts for 80 percent of athletic training.
I’ve always been an advocate of eating whole-grain foods – breads and pastas, wild rice, veggies, beans and oatmeal – but you must read labels carefully. Whole wheat does not equal whole grain.
Runners also need “good” fats, typically 20-30 percent of daily intake. Fat is energy for muscles, once quick-burning carbs have been used. Avoid trans fats. Heart-healthy omega-3s come in walnuts, flax seeds, cold-water fatty fish, soybean and canola oils and even tofu.
Don’t forget protein. A total of 15-35 percent of a runner’s diet should be lean proteins such as fish, poultry, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds. Avoid foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol.
Find the percentages that work for you, and remember: hydration is key to the formula, and timing is everything. Drink early: do NOT wait for thirst to set in. Think of hydration as a pro-active commitment, not as a fix for thirst. Watch your urine: if it’s pale, you’re drinking enough water.
Always choose a pre-exercise meal that’s low in fat and fiber, is high carbohydrate and includes moderate protein. That’s the formula for endurance and energy.
While running, consume approximately 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes. If you’re exercising longer than an hour, alternate water and Gatorade about every 15-20 minutes. For high intensity workouts, I also suggest a sports drink like G2 (Gatorade2).
After running, you need 3 cups of fluid for every pound lost. Your body also needs protein and carbs (like chocolate milk and trail mix). A protein boost within 15-20 minutes of ending your workout will dramatically affect how your muscles rebuild and replenish.
The time period right after exercise – your short-term “recovery” window – is the most critical for improving your body. Training breaks down muscles, literally, and depletes natural energy stores (glycogen). During recovery, muscle tissue begins to repair and in so doing, strengthens. Energy replenishes.
Timing is key. Your short-term recovery window is only about 45 minutes, and can be wasted during a post-workout chat and/or drive home. Once this window closes, your muscles will no longer be receptive to the nutritional assistance you could have provided.
Bottom line: have a snack immediately following a workout that contains carbohydrate and protein, for this critical period. You’ll start to see a real change in your muscle tone, endurance and energy.
A good post-exercise meal, within 60-90 minutes, could be salmon, brown rice, broccoli, peppers and carrots. Let your body enjoy long-term recovery on “no-workout” days, while you focus on a healthy diet. And don’t skip meals. I personally eat six small meals a day.
Next week: nutrition for swimmers.
Over the next four weeks, I’m going to talk about proper nutrition for a variety of sports: running, swimming and cycling. Many Floridians participate in one or more of these physically demanding (but fun) outdoor activities. A few combine them for triathlons – my cap’s off to you.
And here’s the thing. The human body can excel at a demanding sport only when fueled correctly. This may shock you, but proper nutrition is at least 80 percent of the formula for successful exercise and athletic training.
Don’t be misled by my use of the word “training.” If you’re a soccer mom taking a lot of classes to keep your tush looking toned, you are training. Dads who cycle five nights a week to keep the effects of aging at bay are training. And, of course, if you’re an individual or team athlete striving for wins, records, medals or the like, you know I’m speaking to you.
But you can train seven days a week – devoting hours and hours of your life to your pursuit – and without giving your body what it needs to support and achieve those goals, you will not end up where you want to be, including in the weight department. You may not even come close.
Picture Kyle Busch on the track in Indianapolis, and his car without the right kind of gas and fluids. Nothing in his driving skills can overcome the fact that his vehicle is not fueled for the task, and your body is no different.
Sports nutrition has many components. Sure, it’s important what foods you include in your daily diet, be they carbs, protein, fats, sugar or liquids. Carbs and proteins both have specific functions. We must understand what our body needs, how it uses what we give it and how we can maximize what it naturally provides. This is how we learn to boost our energy reserves so we can train harder, build lean muscle and avoid storing fat.
As important as what an active adult eats is the timing of when it’s eaten. I’ll talk about how and why to “pre-load” for a workout, and how nutrition can speed up post-activity recovery. Much of our body’s healing from exercise takes place while we sleep, so nutrition for proper sleep is also critical.
Next week, we’ll start with nutrition for running. (If you spend time on the treadmill in your gym, this will apply to you.) All my running readers will gain a real footing on the road to success. It starts with nutrition.