Archive | Diet and Nutrition RSS feed for this section

Eat Clean, Get Lean, Feel Great

7 Sep

50-clean-eating-superfoods-[1]Eating clean isn’t about being extreme or fanatical about the foods you eat.  It’s about making better choices and realizing that moderation is the key.

Eating clean means opting for more of the foods we know are good for us — whole grains, leans meats, fruits, vegetables, and good fats (the kind that come from nuts and seeds) — and less of the stuff we know is not so good — processed foods, sugar, sodium, and bad fats (for example, trans fats).

Here are some basic rules for eating clean:

Stick with the Basics

The closer foods are to their natural states, the better.  That means unsalted, without added sugar, grass-fed, free-range, meats, and whole fruits and vegetables.  Add more “real” food to your diet, and improve your overall health.

Beware of Boxes and Cans

Most foods that come in a box, and many that come in cans, are processed in some way.  They either add “bad” stuff or strip away “good” stuff.  As a rule, the closer a food is to its original form, the better it is for you.

Be a Label Checker

Try to spend a little time reading the ingredient lists of the foods you and your family eat.  Generally, the healthiest foods contain the fewest ingredients.  If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, don’t eat it.

Avoid Bad Ingredients

Trans fats, food coloring and dyes, artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, and nitrates and nitrites have been linked with everything from heart attacks and strokes to tumors and certain cancers.  Steer clear of foods that contain these ingredients.

Be a Smart(er) Shopper

Foods that are low in sugar and fat, and high in fiber, are great choices as meals and snacks.  Add to your grocery list foods like hummus, tuna and salmon, whole-grain breads and pastas, chia seeds, quinoa, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and lean meats; and spices and condiments like peppercorn, canola oil, and garlic powder.

Eat at Home

It takes a little forethought, planning, and preparation, but home cooking can help you cut calories and improve nutrition.  There are lots of online resources that can provide quick, easy-to-prepare, nutritious recipes for you and your family.  Try “one-dish” meals, which contain a vegetable, protein, and complex carbohydrate.  Use a slow cooker or Crock-Pot and program the time you want your food to be ready.  Cook large, family-sized portions and freeze leftovers for meals later in the week.  Try new foods, combinations, and preparations.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Eat More of These Power Foods

17 Aug

top-10-fat-burning-foods[1]If you’re looking to maximize the return on your nutritional investment — and I know you are — you don’t have to look much further than these power foods.

These foods will energize you; cut your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other diseases; strengthen your immune system; relieve pain and reduce inflammation; help your muscles recover after exercise; and boost brain function.

  • Apples — contain quercetin, a tissue-protecting antioxidant, and a dose of belly-filling fiber.
  • Bananas — for fiber and potassium.
  • Beans — a great source of fiber, protein, vitamin B, zinc, iron, and magnesium.
  • Berries — loaded with heart-healthy, cancer-fighting antioxidants.
  • Dark Cherries — ease inflammation, relieve pain, and can help you sleep better.
  • Dark Leafy Greenskale and spinach are great sources of iron, calcium, vitamins A, C, and K, and folate.
  • Salmon — heart-healthy omega-3s (good fats) and serotonin (a good-mood neurotransmitter)
  • Kiwi — as much potassium as a banana and more vitamin C than an orange
  • Oatmeal — add it to your protein shakes for more fiber and omega-3s.
  • Whole Grains — healthier carbs like brown rice and quinoa (a complete protein).
  • Yogurt — especially the Greek variety.
  • Spices — like ginger, mustard, garlic, and honey.
  • Black and Green Teas — can lower stress and block fat absorption.
  • Avocados — rich in “healthy” fat and powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Eggs — eat this “smart” food for the vitamin D and choline.
  • Beets — high in fiber, magnesium, and vitamin C, and may help reduce blood pressure.
  • Nuts — like almonds and pistachios, make a great snack.
  • Chocolate — the dark variety gets all the good press, but new research shows that milk chocolate also lowers risk of heart disease.

Add some of these foods to this week’s grocery list.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

You Can’t Do It All in the Weight Room

20 Jul

Speed-Resistance-Training-Parachute-1[1]Strength and speed development start in the weight room.  Stronger and faster is the foundation for athletic performance improvement.

But you can’t do it all in the weight room.  What you do outside the weight room will also have an impact on your performance.  Speed and agility training, sport-specific skill development, nutrition, rest and recovery, and mental preparation also complement and play an important role in your development as an athlete.

Speed and Agility Training

Speed development involves a combination of 3 components:

  • Technique — running form and mechanics
  • Assisted and resisted sprinting
  • Strength and power training, including plyometrics

Agility training utilizes exercises and drills that require acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, and reaction.

Sport-Specific Skill Development

Strong and fast is important, but it won’t help you overcome weak ball-handling and shooting skills.  Regardless of the sport(s) you play, skills practice — with proper technique and lots of repetition — will be critical to your progress and success as an athlete.  Time spent on the court, in the batting cage, etc. should focus on quality, and a knowledgeable, experienced coach or trainer can be a valuable resource to make the developmental process more efficient and effective.  Video is also a great tool for performance development (the camera never lies).

Nutrition

Eating the right foods — quantity and quality — is important for two reasons: energy and recovery.  Before you exercise, practice, or play, your nutritional choices help to ensure that you will have adequate energy to perform optimally.  Afterward, the proper balance of nutrients helps with your body’s recovery process, preparing your body for next time.  You should aim to get most of your nutrients from whole foods, and nutritional supplements (multi-vitamin, protein) can also be helpful — especially since active individuals and athletes have a considerably higher need for nutrients to support an active metabolism.

Rest and Recovery

When it comes to strength and speed development, more is not necessarily better.  The goal should be to avoid burnout and injury caused by over-training, doing as much as you need to do to reach your performance goals, and not necessarily as much as you can (please note this does not mean do as little as you can).  Since training places physical and metabolic stress on your body, rest and recovery is necessary for your musculoskeletal system’s regenerative process.  Generally, there is a correlation between the intensity of your training and the amount of rest required by your body to continue to perform at an optimal level.  Make sure you allow for adequate rest during and between workouts, and get a good night’s sleep.

Mental Preparation

In addition to preparing your body, you’ve got to prepare your mind.  Elements of effective mental preparation include goal setting, visualization, focus, confidence, and commitment.  Be a smart athlete — a student of the game.  Be positive and adaptable, and utilize positive self-talk as a motivator.  Expect success and prepare accordingly.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Abs Are Built in the Kitchen, Too

6 Jul

VMO[1]Well (regarding the title), I’m not sure that’s 100% true — at least some of the work has to be done in the weight room — but I do believe You Can’t “Out-Train” a Bad Diet.

Here’s an article, titled, 7 Eating Habits That Will Uncover Your Abs, that provides some helpful advice and insight about the relationship between diet and the quest for abs.

The article focuses on 7 areas:

  • Smart snacking
  • Avoiding hunger
  • Eating for your ideal weight
  • Eating a variety of carbs
  • Eating more veggies (and fish)
  • Post-workout protein and carbs
  • Drinking more water

Remember, balance and moderation is the key.  An extreme, fanatical approach to diet and nutrition (or anything else) rarely has “staying power;” slow and steady — consistency — is the way to go.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Is AM Fasted Cardio for You?

19 Jun

early-morning-workout-tips-300x200[1]I’m a fan of morning workouts.  I think they’re the best, and there’s a lot of scientific research to support the benefits of morning exercise.  AM training sets the tone for your entire day — physiologically, psychologically, and emotionally.  Exercising in the morning just feels good.

And, for our athletes whose goals include strength, speed, and power development, I recommend never training on an empty stomach (as is supported by the scientific literature).

But what if your exercise goals involve weight/fat loss?

There is a debate among exercise science cognoscenti as to whether or not to consume carbohydrates prior to fat-burning exercise.  In other words, should you do morning training on a fasted (empty) stomach or after breakfast?

During cardiovascular exercise, a significant portion of your energy production comes from burning fat. When your diet is higher in protein and fat, your muscle adapts by more effectively utilizing fat and sparing muscle glycogen (the stored form of glucose). Additionally, cardiovascular exercise improves your muscle’s ability to use fat for energy while sparing breakdown of muscle protein. The percentage of carbs used during cardiovascular exercise increases when your diet is high in carbs.

After a night of sleep, fat is available for energy because liver glycogen stores are somewhat depleted by the overnight fast. This means there is less available glucose to burn as fuel and your muscle goes to other sources of fuel — fat or muscle. During cardiovascular exercise, fat is released from stores, resulting in more fat to be available for working muscles. If a carb-rich meal is consumed prior to the workout, glucose becomes the preferred energy source and fat-moving enzymes are shut down by the rise in the hormone insulin, which facilitates conversion of absorbed glucose into stored fat and glycogen.

It is reasonable to infer that eating glucose (carbohydrates) prior to exercise intended to burn fat (i.e., cardiovascular exercise) is counterproductive. Research supports that fat burning is greater in a fasted state vs. a fed state and that fasted cardio improves the contribution of intramuscular fats used in energy production during cardiovascular training.

In other words, research supports that fat burning is greater in the fasted state than in the fed state.

Fasted training improves the muscle’s ability to burn fat more than similar exercise done with prior carb intake. Perhaps more crucial for the low-carb dieter, fasted-state cardio prevents the drop in blood glucose seen in exercise after a carb meal. This avoids the crash that can occur when training after eating sugars or carbs.

Please keep in mind that fasted cardio is just that: It only applies to cardiovascular exercise and not to high-intensity strength and power training.  Athletes who are training to improve performance should always eat prior to a workout, and never train on an empty stomach.

If you’re an athlete who wants to get stronger, faster, and more powerful, make sure you eat appropriately prior to training.

However, if your goal is to burn fat, give fasted morning cardio a try.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Eat These Carbohydrates Before and After Your Workout

8 Jun

high-carbohydrate-foods[1]Carbohydrates are important before your workout, to provide fuel for your exercise session; and after your workout, to replenish glycogen (the stored form of glucose) stores in your working muscles.

But, what are the best types of carbohydrates to consume before and after your workout?

The glycemic index (GI) is a way of measuring the body’s response to food.  A high GI food will cause a rapid and high elevation in blood glucose and a commensurate rise in blood levels of insulin.  Conversely, low GI foods will lead to a slower, more sustained blood glucose concentration.

Processed foods and foods with added sugar tend to have higher GIs; while less processed foods — including whole grain, high-fiber carbohydrates — usually have lower GIs.  Foods with carbohydrates that also have protein and/or fat also tend to have lower GIs, such as milk and dark chocolate.

Although the quality of your pre-workout meal or snack may not always significantly impact performance, studies lean toward a rationale for low GI carbohydrates before a workout, especially if the workout is longer in duration.

To accelerate restoration of glycogen stores following a workout, high GI carbohydrates may be a better choice.  High GI carbs are also appropriate between games of a double-header, or at half-time of a sporting event.

Here’s an informational article about the glycemic index that describes the differences and effects of high and low GI carbohydrates.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Happy New Year! (it’s resolution time)

6 Jan

Happy New Year, once again, and welcome to the end of the first full week of 2020.  Although I’m not a big proponent of annual resolutions, this time of year certainly lends itself to that process for lots of people.  If you’re one of them, here are some considerations in your quest for self-improvement:

  • Upgrade your pantry and fridge.  Replace the high-sugar, refined, processed, and fried foods and snacks with healthier options like nuts, fruits, and veggies.
  • Schedule your workout.  You’re more likely to commit to a regular workout if you schedule it as part of your day/week as you would any other appointment or obligation.
  • Train with a buddy to keep you motivated and accountable.  Research shows that you’re more likely to stay on task if you workout with a partner, especially if he or she is more fit than you.
  • Try new foods.  Experiment with new recipes and try to avoid stuff that comes out of a bag, package, or box.
  • Get your sleep.  You’ll feel and perform better when you are well-rested.  Aim for 7-8 hours of shuteye per night.
  • Try a new activity.  If your current routine is getting stale, move on.  Finding an activity you enjoy increases the likelihood that you’ll make it a priority.
  • Take a break.  Set aside time in your daily calendar for two 15-minute breaks — one in the morning and another in the afternoon.  Go for a walk, listen to music, or grab a healthy snack to improve productivity.
  • Get more color in your diet.  Try to include at least three colorful fruits and vegetables on your plate at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Colorful meals are packed with antioxidants and nutrients to help fight illness and decrease inflammation.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2020.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Healthy Eating Tips for the Holiday Season

9 Dec

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 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!

Your thoughts?

Spread Out Your Protein

22 Nov

If you want to build muscle, you need to get more protein.  Active individuals should aim for 0.6-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, daily.  Athletes may need even more.

So, how should you distribute your daily protein intake?

Scientists at Skidmore College (NY) found that individuals who divide their daily protein among six smaller meals, instead of three larger ones, build muscle faster.

Start your day with protein, and try to get more than half of your recommended intake by lunch.  Eggs for breakfast are a quick and easy way to get your morning protein.  Add a mid-morning protein shake, and grilled chicken (or other lean meat) and Greek yogurt for lunch.  Peanut butter is another good way to get your protein with any meal or snack, any time of day.

I like preparing a protein shake — 10-12 oz. of chocolate milk and a scoop of chocolate whey protein powder — and sipping it, throughout the day.  It’s an easy way to add 30-40 grams of protein to my daily intake.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Don’t Overlook Cottage Cheese

28 Oct

cottage-cheese[1]If you’re looking for a nutritious protein source, don’t overlook cottage cheese.

Once considered a bland, boring diet food, lowfat cottage cheese boasts a whopping 28 grams of protein per one cup serving, only 163 calories, and goes well with lots of foods.

Cottage cheese provides all the amino acids you need, making it a source of complete protein.  It’s also a great source of nutrients like calcium (bone, heart, and muscle function), phosphorus (bone health), riboflavin (helps convert food into usable energy), and vitamin B12 (brain function, red blood cell production).

Use cottage cheese as a healthier alternative to sour cream; stir it into dips and soups; or add it as a dessert ingredient.

Try this Cottage Cheese Pancakes recipe.  These pancakes are not only packed with high-quality protein, but also lighter and fluffier than the classic version.  Serve them with a bit of butter and sugar-free syrup.

  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)

In a large bowl. stir together the cottage cheese, eggs, butter, and milk.  Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and nutmeg, and blend lightly until just mixed.  Grease a griddle with cooking spray and place over medium heat.  Put a large scoop of batter on the griddle and use the back of a spoon to spread it out evenly.  The pancake is ready to flip when you begin to see small air bubbles form, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Flip and cook for another minute or 2.  Makes about 12 4-inch pancakes.

Per pancake: 97 calories, 5 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 5 g fat (3 g saturated)

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

%d bloggers like this: