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What’s More Important — Diet or Exercise?

30 Apr

Your genetic “blueprint”dictates a lot about your fitnesshealth, and wellness.  But we all have a window of opportunity within which we can have an impact.

And, while diet and exercise are both significant contributors, you can impact your metabolism to a greater extent through exercise.

Simply stated, pound-for-pound, muscle burns more calories than fat.

The best way to build muscle and burn fat is high-intensity interval resistance training (HIRT).  HIRT continues to build muscle and burn fat even after you have left the gym.

In one recent Italian study, lifters doing HIRT burned 18% more calories 22 hours after exercising than individuals who did traditional strength training.

Next time you’re in the weight room, try this approach:  Choose three exercises.  Start with the first exercise and, using 80-85% of your 1 rep max, do 6 reps and rest 20 seconds; do 2-3 reps and rest 20 seconds; do 2-3 reps.  That’s one set.  Do 7 sets of all three exercises.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Nutrient Timing — It’s More Important Than You Think

23 Apr

We all know that what you eat is important, but so is when you eat, especially if you’re active. In this infographic, John Berardi, Ph. D., and founder of Precision Nutrition, shares his thoughts regarding what to eat before, during, and after exercise.

This informative resource breaks down workout nutrition based on body type and composition, portion sizes, and protein and carbohydrate consumption.

Check it out!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Chocolate Protein Pudding Pops

26 Mar

I’m always looking for fun and creative ways to get more protein in my diet.  And since, invariably, most of my clients can also benefit by increasing their protein consumption, they often ask me for suggestions.

One of my favorite treats is chocolate protein pudding.  I prepare it by blending one packet of sugar-free chocolate pudding mix with 16 ounces of Fairlife chocolate milk and one scoop of chocolate protein powder.  This simple recipe makes four – 4 ounce servings, with about 14 grams of protein per serving.

I recently came across a recipe for Chocolate Protein Pudding Pops.  This frozen treat is delicious, nutritious, and perfect for summertime.  Here’s how to make them:

  • 3 scoops chocolate whey protein powder
  • 4 cups nonfat vanilla (Greek) yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Fairlife chocolate milk

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and mix thoroughly. Pour into popsicle molds and place in your freezer overnight. Enjoy!

Makes eight – 4 ounce popsicles

Nutrient Content (per serving): Calories: 90, Total Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 17mg, Sodium : 97mg, Total Carbohydrates: 7g, Sugars: 6g, Fiber: 1g, Protein: 16g

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Increase Protein Consumption With This Simple Strategy

22 Jan

Most of us are “under-proteined” and “over-carbohydrated” (okay… I know those aren’t real words, I made them up; stay with me).

Protein Consumption Guidelines

An active individual should aim for 0.6-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, daily.  For example, an active, athletic 150 pound person should consume between 90-120 grams of protein per day.  Elite athletes may need as much as 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, daily, to rebuild muscle given the physical demands of training, practices, and games.  Sounds like a lot, huh?

For most of our clients, we recommend ditching the antiquated “3 square meals per day” strategy in favor of 5-6 meals or snacks.  Ideally, each of these meals or snacks should be balanced, including lean protein — about 20 grams, healthy fats, and clean carbs.

Additionally, active individuals and athletes should always consume 20-30 grams of protein following a workout, practice, or game.

Here’s a strategy I suggested to my kids — all very physical active — to help them supplement their daily protein intake:

The first step is to get an accurate idea of your current daily protein intake (from all sources).  Next, calculate the difference between the amount of protein you should be getting and the amount you’re actually getting (my youngest daughter’s additional daily protein requirement, based on this equation, is about 35 grams).

The rest sounds simple — make yourself a protein shake.  In my daughter’s case, we mix 11 ounces of milk (11 grams protein) with one scoop chocolate whey protein powder (24 grams protein) in a blender/shaker container, the night before the day she will drink it.  The simplicity of the strategy is the method in which the protein shake is consumed.  Instead of guzzling it all at one time (which may be somewhat overwhelming and/or prohibitive for some folks, especially for larger quantity protein shakes), she takes a few sips, throughout the day.

First thing in the morning or with breakfast, have a few sips of your protein shake.  Mid-morning snack… a few more sips.  Same goes for lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner, and evening snack.  The goal is to finish your protein shake before you go to bed —  a few sips at a time, then make another one for the following day.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Eat Fewer Foods with Added Sugar

11 Dec

Want to make a dietary change that will help you feel better, look better, and perform better?  Start by minimizing (or avoiding) foods with added sugar.

By reducing or eliminating foods with added sugar from your diet, you will eat fewer carbs.  This strategy, combined with increasing your protein consumption, can lower your calorie intake and optimize hormones that regulate fat burning.

Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared.  They are listed in food labels under a wide variety of names, including corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, and — of course — sugar, to name just a few.  This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those in milk and fruits.

Added sugars, which are sprinkled on and processed into packaged foods and beverages, have become all too common in the American diet, says the American Heart Association. The group argues that sugar bingeing is helping drive the uptick in metabolic changes in the American population, including the exploding obesity rate (U.S. News and World Report).

Added sugars are commonly found in foods and beverages, such as:

  • regular soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks
  • candy
  • cakes
  • cookies
  • pies and cobblers
  • pastries, sweet rolls, and doughnuts
  • fruit drinks
  • dairy desserts

Check your food labels.  If the foods you usually eat contain added sugar, especially as one of the first few ingredients listed, consider it a red flag.  You can do better by choosing a healthier alternative.

Already doing a good job avoiding foods with added sugars?  The next step is reducing your consumption of refined grains, such as white bread, white rice, etc.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Healthy Eating Tips for the Holiday Season

28 Nov

Well, it’s that time of year… the holiday “weight gain” season.  And, although there is anecdotal speculation — via media reports, surveys, etc. — that the average American gains 5-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas, several studies now show that the average weight gain during the winter holidays is just a pound or two.  But here’s the real problem: Most people don’t ever lose the pound(s) of weight they put on during the holidays, according to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine.  Since the average weight gain during adulthood is about one to two pounds a year, that means much of midlife weight gain can be explained by holiday eating.

Here are some healthy eating tips to help you stay on track and get through the holidays:

  • Exercise! Exercise! Exercise! Stay committed to your exercise/training program. Physical activity can help relieve stress, regulate appetite, and burn up extra calories.
  • Be realistic. Perhaps the holiday season is not the best time to try to lose weight. Aim to maintain your current weight instead.
  • Portion control. Keep your portion sizes small. Eat small portions of a variety of foods rather than a large portion of one food.
  • Eat breakfast. Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. It jump starts your metabolism and helps to stave off hunger and cravings.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Alternate cocktails with unsweetened iced tea or seltzer to reduce the quantity of alcohol consumed. Choose wine, light beer or spirits mixed with no calorie beverages.
  • Drink lots of water. Drinking water can decrease the chance of overeating by temporarily filling your stomach. Also, caffeine and alcohol can lead to dehydration which increases your need for water.
  • Snack sensibly. Choose fruits and vegetables and dip with veggies instead of chips. Limit fried foods, high-fat sauces and gravies, and cheese cubes.
  • Eat slowly and stop when you feel satisfied (not stuffed). Listen to your stomach! It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal your stomach that you’ve had enough. Pay attention to what it feels like to be satisfied and not full.
  • Prepare for temptationNever go to a party or event hungry. Prepare yourself for distractions by eating before you go. Have a small meal or a snack which contains a combination of carbohydrate, protein, and a little healthy fat to fend off hunger, such as natural peanut butter on whole wheat bread or low-fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit.
  • Visualize success. Make an action plan. Think about where you will be, who you will be with and what foods will be available. It’s much easier to deal with a difficult social eating situation if you’ve already planned for it. Parties are a time to mingle with friends and loved ones. Focus on interaction instead of on the food and drinks. Food very often is center stage of any party but you can guarantee success by visualizing the enjoyment of the company and not just the food and drink.
  • Don’t deprive yourself. Don’t spend all your time obsessing over the not-so-healthy delicacy that you’re really craving. Instead, allow a small portion and savor every mouth-watering bite so that you do not feel deprived.

Eating a bit too much one day is not the end of the world! It takes consecutive days of unhealthy eating to gain weight. If you slip up, put it behind you and return to your healthy eating plan, just don’t allow it to become a habit. You are in control of your lifestyle choices so choose wisely. It’s all about lifestyle changes, not diets.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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How Protein Becomes Muscle

29 Sep

Protein consumption, following a workout, is an important component of the muscle and strength building process.  But how, exactly, does the process work?

Here’s a terrific resource from Men’s Health titled, How Protein Becomes Muscle.  This animated video explains the process from ingestion through each subsequent stage — transportresponserepair and growth; and construction.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Build a Healthier Sandwich at Subway

15 Sep

Subway restaurants have become enormously popular.  And, why not?  Compared to other fast-food alternatives, their food is tasty, convenient, and (for the most part) they use fresh, healthy ingredients.  But there’s also a potential downside.  The average foot-long Subway sandwich can be a calorie bomb!  Most of us, including athletes, don’t need that many calories at one sitting.  There’s a smarter, healthier way to eat at Subway.

Tips for Building a Healthier Subway Sandwich:

  • Use lean meats.  Go with turkey or chicken breast, or even ham or roast beef.  Avoid bologna, salami, and pepperoni.
  • Double the meat.  Boost protein and cut carbs.  Instead of a foot-long, opt for a 6-inch with double meat.
  • Load up on the veggies.  An easy way to add lots of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
  • Avoid the fat-laden dressings.  Try mustard, a little salt and pepper, or oil and vinegar.
  • Be smart with your carbs.  Choose a whole grain roll, or a wrap.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

You Can’t “Out-Train” a Bad Diet

30 Aug

Some of the athletes with whom I work are under the impression that, because they are active and workout regularly, they can eat whatever they want.  The truth is, the quantity, quality, and timing of your diet can make a difference in your training results and your performance, over time.  Your nutrition has a bigger impact on your body than you may realize.

Eating the right foods, in the appropriate quantities, at the right times, can complement your strength and conditioning efforts, and improve your body’s effectiveness and efficiency — as well as your overall health and wellness.  Here are some diet and nutrition tips that go “hand-in-hand” with your training:

  • Eat more frequently — 4-6 small meals and snacks per day — to stay satisfied and avoid hunger-induced binging
  • Snack on foods like fruits and veggies, Greek yogurt, and nuts and seeds
  • Reduce portion size to about the size of your fist
  • Choose lean proteins – tuna, salmon, egg whites, lean beef, turkey breast, ground turkey
  • Increase your daily protein consumption to about 0.6-0.8 grams per pound of body weight
  • Avoid sugary beverages and drink more water
  • Opt for healthy (unsaturated) fats, like those found in olive oil, nuts and nut butters, and salmon
  • Eat whole-grain, high-fiber carbs
  • Know your ideal, daily caloric intake and manage it, accordingly
  • Track your daily calories; you may be surprised

Eat healthy — don’t let your diet sabotage your training efforts and performance results.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Youth Athletes More Likely to Be Dehydrated

23 Aug

Dehydration is the number one cause of fatigue-related performance decline in athletes, including youth athletes.  Hydration — during activity (practices, games, etc.) — doesn’t seem to be adequate or effective enough to maintain hydration status. Therefore, it is imperative for coaches and parents to encourage hydration throughout the day — before, during (especially), and after activity.

The body is about 70% water, and small fluctuations in that percentage can make an impact, quickly. As water levels decline, so do the levels of nutrients needed to keep the body functioning effectively, such as salt and potassium.

Fatigue can occur when the volume of blood in the body is reduced as dehydration gets worse. That causes the heart to pump less efficiently. As dehydration progresses, the body has a more difficult time diffusing internal heat, and tension is created through the body in muscles, joints, and organs. That tension often manifests itself as fatigue.

Here’s an article from Health and Fitness News, based on a Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study, titled, Youth Athletes More Likely to Be Dehydrated.  Thanks to my friend, Niki, for sharing this resource.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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