Posts Tagged ‘protein’
You’ve probably read the phrase “smart substitutes” in some of my previous posts. If you’re trying to lead a healthier lifestyle or lose some weight (or both), then these two simple words can change everything for you. Take them to heart and know that by choosing a few “smart substitutes” on a consistent basis, you make some pretty big changes without feeling much sacrifice.
Making smarter choices by going with substitutes for foods higher in fat or calories requires a little detective work, but you can handle it. You’ve got to read labels. Yes, I know you’re often in a hurry at the grocery, but simply grabbing what’s handy, on sale, or new is not a component of a healthy lifestyle.
Think of the grocery as a peaceful time to focus on your goals. Give yourself some extra time to read labels, make carefully considered choices, and to picture yourself healthier and happier. Exercising control over your food purchases means a far riskier situation at home, health-wise. With smart shopping choices being made in the store, healthier nutrition becomes much easier at home, whether you’re grabbing a snack or cooking a meal from scratch. Simple modifications to your menu – using smart choices – can literally save hundreds of calories and tons of fat.
The biggest label no-no is sugar. If sugar (or a form of sugar) is one of the first three ingredients listed on a package, that likely means that particular food or drink is very high in sugar. Choose a substitute.
Give yourself a double boost by eating wisely at breakfast to kick-start your day. Replace pork bacon or sausage with turkey or soy. The difference in calories is shocking, and the taste is still there.
Replace a donut or Danish with an English muffin spread with natural peanut butter and fruit spread. I promise you, you’ll be satisfied. Opt for whole wheat toast or bagels, and trans-free canola margarine instead of butter. Omega-3-enriched eggs, egg whites or egg substitutes are also smart substitutes. Replace cornflakes and milk with bran flakes and skim millk.
Light mayo is crucial to weight maintenance; keep it in the fridge. Turn your breaded chicken or fish patties into the grilled variety, and try some of today’s amazing veggie burgers. Don’t tell the family up front they’re about to experience a change; there’s every chance the new flavors will appeal.
Side dishes can add loads of unnecessary fat and calories. Substitute brown rice, steamed veggies, tossed salad with vinaigrette, fruit salad or carrot sticks for fries, potato salad, or white rice. Have you noticed how many white foods I’m recommending a substitute for?
Your new favorite words are broiled, boiled, steamed, sautéed, grilled, and raw. Think of them as six wonderful, tasty, life-enhancing alternatives to one artery-clogging, fat-producing word: “fried.”
After all, isn’t that the point? You want to enhance your life, to feel good and have longevity to enjoy all the great things that might come your way. Start at 20, 40, or 60 … but just start. You only get one go-around!
Coleslaw Tossed salad w/ vinaigrette dressing
French fries Fruit salad or carrot sticks
French fries Oven fries or baked potato
Potato salad with mayo Potato salad with light mayo
Fried vegetables Steamed vegetables
White rice Brown rice or wild rice
Couscous Whole wheat couscous or quinoa
Breaded fried chicken breast Skinless roasted chicken breast
Breaded fried fish Broiled fish filet
Breaded fried shrimp Boiled or sautéed shrimp
Beef ribs or prime rib Beef sirloin or round steak
Pork chops Turkey breast
Meat pizza with extra cheese Veggie pizza with less cheese
Pasta with cream sauce Pasta with marinara sauce
Regular ground beef Extra lean ground beef
Regular ground beef Ground turkey breast
Regular ground beef Veggie burger crumbles
Creamy salad dressing Vinaigrette salad dressing
Creamy salad dressing Olive oil and vinegar
Cream sauce Lowfat cream of mushroom soup
SpreadsRegular mayonnaise Light or nonfat mayonnaise
Regular cream cheese Light or nonfat cream cheese
Regular peanut butter Natural peanut butter
Jelly or jam Fruit spread or apple butter
Whole ricotta cheese Nonfat ricotta cheese
Heavy cream Evaporated skim milk
Whole milk Low fat or nonfat milk
Whole yogurt Low fat or nonfat yogurt
Whole cottage cheese Low fat or nonfat cottage cheese
Regular cheese Reduced fat or soy cheese
Regular sour cream Light or nonfat sour cream or plain yogurt (for extra calcium)
SnacksRoasted peanuts Homemade mix: walnuts, almonds, raisins, cranberries, peanuts
Regular butter popcorn or “kettle corn” Light microwave popcorn
Regular potato chips Light or baked potato chips
Regular corn chips Light or baked tortilla chips
Butter flavor crackers Whole wheat crackers
Nacho cheese dip Black bean dip or salsa
DessertsRegular ice cream Low fat or nonfat frozen yogurt
Ice cream bar Frozen fruit bar
Milk chocolate candy bar Dark chocolate candy bar
Cheesecake Graham crackers topped with light cream cheese and strawberry spread
Fruit pie in pastry shell Fresh fruit crisp
Strawberries with custard Strawberries with nonfat pudding
Candy bar Granola bar
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.
We’ve all heard certain “facts” about nutrition so many times that we take them at face value, no longer questioning their validity. I’m going to knock a hole in a few of the things we “know” to be true about food.
Let’s start with the food that’s hardest to avoid: sugar. Those who’ve ever attempted the Atkins Diet or simply tried to avoid sugar probably got a rude awakening when they started reading labels. Sugar is hiding everywhere: lunch meat, ketchup, salad dressings. The average person in the U.S. consumes about “128 pounds” a year, or 34 teaspoons a day. Super-size fountain drink, anyone?
But what about sugar causing hyperactivity in kids? Controlled studies prove that’s false. And doesn’t eating sugar put a person at risk for diabetes? No. What causes diabetes is lack of activity, being overweight and a high-calorie diet. Diabetes patients have to cut way down on sugar, but just don’t go there.
Perhaps you’ve heard that brown sugar is healthier than white sugar. Sorry to disappoint, but brown sugar is white granulated sugar with molasses added. The mineral content between the two is insignificant at the end of the day.
Sugar is a refined food that’s been stripped of fiber, water, vitamins and minerals. Avoid foods that list a variant of it as its first three ingredients. This includes dextrose, lactose, sucrose and maltose. Sugar is calories without nutrients, so picture that 128-pound pile and try to make a dent in it.
The “brown vs. white” myth has carried over into the egg department as well. While they may look more natural, brown eggs have no additional nutritional benefits over white. Nor are they higher quality or more flavorful. Hen color determines the eggshell color. White feather hens lay white eggs; red feather hens lay brown eggs.
While we’re on the subject of protein, I’ll dispel a few other myths.
Low-carb diets will cause temporary weight loss but are not a good long-term idea. You may end up ingesting too much cholesterol, which ups the risk of heart disease. Too few fruits and whole grains can lead to a lack of fiber and constipation. Too few carbs can also make a person feel tired, weak or nauseous. Being wobbly at a party can really detract from a girl’s beautiful size 6 cocktail dress.
Another risk of too few carbs is the buildup of ketones in your blood. The kickoff of the Atkins diet is designed to put your body “in ketosis” … but over time, these ketones cause the body to produce a lot of uric acid, a risk factor for joint swelling (gout) and kidney stones. You’ll also notice your new bad breath, and your friends may too.
Ketosis makes the body use fat instead of carbs as an energy source. The weight you lose may well be lean muscle and water. So much better to reduce calories, fat and exercise.
Final myth: cabbage soup and grapefruit burn fat. Nope, sorry, reread the last few paragraphs. You’ll just lose water weight, lean muscle and feel tired and queasy. And that’s the truth!
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.
In my last column, I explained that whey protein is often a problem for lactose-intolerant people who are using a protein supplement. It’s easy to assume that a protein supplement is beneficial for only extreme athletes such as bodybuilders, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Protein has many uses and supplementation is beneficial for a wide variety of users. They include the elderly; those with joint or degenerative diseases, or orthopedic conditions; the overweight; people who do heavy manual labor in their work, sport or hobby; those going through growth phases; people in physical rehab; men and women doing intensive training for a sport or competition; adults who work out on a regular basis; teen athletes who are trying to build muscle and strength; people taking symptomatic treatment for pain relief or inflammation; and anyone with pain resulting from excessive joint stress. Hardly anyone you know doesn’t fit onto that list somewhere.
The trick is getting that extra protein without absorbing a lot of extra calories, fillers or dairy products (as in the case of whey protein powder).
Collagen is a great way to get added protein. Did you know that collagen is the second-largest component of the human body after water? It’s a protein, and one found in muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, bones and more.
Historically, physicians have used collagen to treat skin trauma, such as burns and wounds. But collagen also affects the hair, nails and overall healthy appearance of skin, which is why you see it advertised in high-end skin care products.
As we age, our bodies stop producing collagen protein, and sadly, it’s collagen that gives our skin elasticity. So the appearance of dry, wrinkled skin is really the lack of collagen. Supplementing your diet with a natural source of collagen protein doesn’t just make you more youthful looking, however. Collagen builds lean healthy muscle – the muscle of youth – as well as healthy joints and bones. Can you think of a better supplement to give the special elders in your life?
Collagen protein also helps aid in the repair of muscle tissue. Because a good workout or physical exercise is actually breaking down the body’s muscles, collagen protein assists in the rebuilding process. Collagen makes it possible to heal faster, simultaneously building leaner muscle, following a workout. Some will even find they sleep more soundly when taking collagen protein. Sounds better all the time, doesn’t it?
You may wonder why a person can’t just eat more protein and gain the same benefits. It’s about bioavailability. Protein in food form has calories, of course, and a healthy daily diet only contains so many. The bioavailability of the protein also comes into question. By the time your body works to chew and digest the food, you’re not getting nearly as much protein as the amount you started with on your plate.
A powder form can provide extra protein without as much work for the body, but comes with the added calories of what it’s poured into. A liquid protein is your best bet. Find one that’s small in calories, and better yet, hydrolyzed – or “predigested” – which simply means that you ingest it in its smallest form, with no extra work for the body to break it down.
I encourage you to join me – and my husband and my teenage son – and add a low-cal collagen protein supplement to your diet. You could be amazed at the changes you experience. See the developing abs on the teen in the photo? That’s my son Cody, who drinks a liquid collagen protein supplement and works out regularly.
- Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian, sports nutrition authority, and and owner of Associates in Nutrition Therapy in Fort Myers, Florida. She can be contacted at Elaine@eatrightRD.com or by visiting Associatesin Nutrition.com.
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
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