workout foods

Best fueling workout foods

Choosing the right foods to fuel your body with before and after your workout can boost your fitness performance and optimize the benefits of exercise. Ready to power through your workout? Keep reading for tips about what to eat before and after a workout to make the most out of it.

As with most topics in nutrition, nutritional advice is best given when based on the individual given their personal circumstance. Each person is different, so keep in mind, these are general recommendations and the best way to get individualized advice is to meet with a dietitian one-on-one.

When should I eat?

The optimal time to eat before a work out is 1.5 to 3 hours before your workout. If you eat too closely to the time you work out, your stomach may hurt.

After working out, make sure to eat within 30 minutes to refuel and rebuild muscle tissue.

What to eat before a workout:

Focus on a combination of complex and simple carbs so that the release of energy during your workout is slow and steady throughout your workout.

  • Peanut butter (2 tablespoons) and celery sticks (2-3 sticks)
  • Small sweet potato with steamed vegetables and a drizzle of olive oil (1 cup)
  • Apple and walnuts (1/4 cup)
  • Greek yogurt (6 oz) and nuts
  • Multigrain crackers (8-10 each) with hummus (2 tablespoons)
  • Whole wheat toast (1 slice) with 1/2 sliced banana
  • Smoothie (1/2 cup green leafy vegetable, 1/2 banana, 1 cup almond milk, 1 handful of berries)

What to eat after a workout:

After a workout, consume protein and some carbohydrate is best immediately after exercise to aid in recovery, maximize exercise benefits, and help maintain lean muscle:

  • Whole wheat toast (1 slice) and scrambled egg (1 each)
  • Hard boiled egg (1 each) and trail mix (1 handful)
  • Protein shake (1/2 cup green leafy vegetable, 1/2 banana, 1 cup almond milk, 1 scoop of protein powder)
  • Steamed or sauteed vegetables (1 cup) and non-GMO tofu (1/2 cup)
  • Quinoa bowl (1 cup) with blackberries (1 cup) and pecans (1/4 cup)
  • Whole-wheat bread (2 slices) with turkey (2 slices), guacamole (2 tablespoons)
  • Brown rice (1/2 cup) with beans (1/2 cup), guacamole (2 tablespoons), and salsa
  • Low fat chocolate milk (1 cup)
  • Whole-wheat bread (2 slices) with tuna (3 ounces) mixed with lemon juice (1 oz), salt and pepper to season
  • Greek yogurt (6 oz) with fruit (2 oz) and nuts (2 tablespoons)

Tips on managing inflammation naturally

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to a foreign invader. It’s part of our immunity and it has the role of defending against harm and healing from injury. Generally speaking, an acute inflammatory response is beneficial because it signals to us that our immune system is fighting against an irritant. Signs of acute inflammation may be redness, swelling, heat, pain, limited mobility/function. An example is a bug bite and the area affected becomes itchy, red and swollen. Usually, the area heals in a few days, unless it is a more severe reaction which then might indicate an allergic reaction. When inflammation persists for a longer duration of time that lasts from weeks to months, it is considered chronic inflammation. Examples may include rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, chronic lung disease. Compared to acute inflammation, this type of inflammation typically leads to more harm than benefits. It puts stress on our body, causes damage to tissues and impairs our immune system, leading to health problems. We know that managing chronic inflammation is important to prevent damage or further damage to our body. And one of the best ways to manage chronic inflammation naturally is through our diet. We can incorporate these general anti-inflammatory diet tips to help us manage chronic inflammation:

  1. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, of different size, colors and shapes, to ensure we benefit from the wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress therefore reducing inflammation. Some phytochemicals have also been studied for anti-inflammatory effects.
  2. Eat mostly minimally processed foods. Focus on whole foods in order to optimize nutritional value. Processed foods tend to have less natural nutrients because of the intensive processes they have had to go through.
  3. Stay clear of artificial sweeteners and products that contain them, such as diet sodas. Artificial sweeteners are chemically made and when entered into the body, it might appear as a foreign invader thus triggering our immune system to attack the chemical. This is the beginning of the inflammatory process.
  4. Include fatty fish high in omega 3 content at least twice a week. Options are sardines, salmon, anchovies, trout, albacore tuna, Atlantic mackerel. Have at least 1,000 mg of omega 3 per day. This can be achieved with the help of omega 3 supplements.
  5. Utilize Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Dirty Dozen Guide to grocery shopping: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php. Buy organic, as much as possible, to limit intake of pesticide residue which is a foreign chemical substance to the body and can contribute to inflammation.
kombucha and their health benefits

Kombucha (kom-boo-cha) – What is it and what are its health benefits?

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented beverage made from sweetened tea, often times using black or green tea. Its history dates back to at least two thousand years ago in the Far East Asia with origins in China. The tea was valued for its benefits in health, beauty and longevity. Emperors would drink this tea to keep strong, healthy and youthful.

The tea is fermented by bacteria and yeast. Yes, that’s right, bacteria and yeast in your beverage! This probably sounds gross, but fermentation is a natural process that produces good bacteria. When we eat or drink good bacteria, they help keep our guts and immune system healthy. When making kombucha, the initial sugar added to the tea is food for the bacteria and yeast, so by the end of the fermentation, there is little sugar left (usually less than 6 grams per 8 ounces of unflavored kombucha).

What does kombucha taste like?

The general taste of kombucha is tart, fizzy and slightly sweet. Some people may describe it as “acidic” or “tastes like vinegar”. The taste does vary though, depending how long the fermentation was and whether flavors were added to it. The longer the kombucha was fermented, the more acidic it becomes and it tastes more like vinegar. There may be traces of alcohol in it from the fermentation process, however you typically won’t taste it.

What are its health benefits?

  1. It is rich in good bacteria (also known as probiotics) and Vitamin B’s (including Vitamin B12) to help boost your immune system, balance your digestive system and replenish good bacteria in your gut.
  2. It has antioxidants, including Vitamin C. Antioxidants are important to help us fight colds, reduce inflammation and detoxify our bodies.
  3. Unflavored kombucha is usually low in calories (20-30 calories per 8 ounces) and low in sugar (2-6 grams per 8 ounces) which makes it a great alternative to unhealthy sweetened beverages such as soda or juice.
  4. Its packed with Vitamin B’s and has caffeine from tea therefore may give us a boost in energy levels!
  5. Early research studies are linking kombucha’s potential to reduce stress and anxiety levels. This makes sense considering our gut-brain connection! Stress affects our gut bacteria and decreases our immunity.

Tips on dealing with kombucha

  • If you’re buying kombucha, make sure you buy it from a reputable brand to ensure the safety and quality of the drink.
  • If you’re brewing your own kombucha, please practice safe food handling procedure to prevent contamination.
  • Choose a kombucha brewed with green tea for its higher concentration of antioxidants.
  • Be aware of the sugar content of flavored kombucha. There may have been juices or sweeteners added to it. For a low caloric, low sugar choice, choose an unflavored version.
  • Kombucha was brewed many centuries ago, but is just starting to grow in popularity in modern times and strong human clinical trials remains limited. With this in mind, drink it with discretion. Eating or drinking too much of anything is never good. When in doubt, I would recommend starting with 2-4 oz of kombucha per day to see how your body reacts to it.

 

protein needs

How much protein should I be eating?

Protein is an essential macronutrient that our body needs for growth and maintenance. It is used to build and repair tissues, including our skin and nails, and it is used to make enzymes and hormones. It also provides us energy and allows our immune system to function properly.

So, yes, protein is important and necessary! It’s no wonder protein tends to be a hot topic and one of the common questions is, how much protein should I be eating?

Figuring out how much protein you need in a day can be done with some simple math. For an average adult who is generally healthy and is looking to maintain their current their lean body mass and weight, they will require a minimum daily amount of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (reference: the DRI, Dietary Reference Intake). For example, if we have a 150 pounds male (divide that by 2.2 to convert to kilograms = 68.2 kilograms), we simply take 68.2 kilograms x 0.8 grams per kilograms to get a total of 54 grams of protein per day. Divide that amount by 3 meals. This person would be looking at eating about 18-20 grams of protein per meal.

Keep in mind, the above calculation is appropriate for adults who are only interested in maintenance.  If there are other factors, such as muscle building, gaining weight, extreme sports participant, wound healing, or medical treatments that increase your physiological demands, then you may be looking at a recommended daily range of 0.8 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (sometimes, that goes even higher depending on your health and fitness needs).

A range of 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight may seem like a big one and it can be daunting to try to estimate your protein needs if you are someone who has several factors to account for besides maintenance. If this speaks to you, it’s recommended to work with a registered dietitian who can take a full assessment of your current diet, health and fitness status and together, you will get a more accurate estimate of your daily protein needs. In addition, a registered dietitian can help make recommendations on how to meet your protein needs, provide ideas for meal planning and guide you along the way as you become healthier.

Have you tried estimated your protein needs? Give the above equation a try and see what your estimated daily protein needs are!