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)
lemon water benefits

Why I drink lemon water everyday

I’m a fan of fruit-infused water and love to experiment with different fruits and vegetables to make my water tasty (and pretty!) One of my favorite go-to’s is simply adding lemon to water. In the past, I would occasionally enjoy having lemon with my water, but my intake was never consistent until now. Over the 4 few months, I’ve started a new routine of having lemon in my water everyday. So far, the benefits have been great. And the best part is, it’s SO feasible, simple and cheap to do. Let’s talk about claims we’ve heard about having lemon water and whether they are true or not, based on my experience of having it everyday for the past 4 months!

Claim #1: It aids in digestion. Yes! I’ve had less GI symptoms such as bloating and constipation since starting this lemon water routine. Lemons have been talked about as detoxifying agents. The flavonoids in lemon and other citrus fruits aid the acid in the stomach in breaking down food, which can help improve overall digestion. And the water itself helps move things through the digestive tract to help prevent constipation.

Claim #2: Lemon is a good source of Vitamin C. It can help prevent colds and reduce the duration of colds. I can attest to this as well! I used to regularly take EmergenC packets for its high Vitamin C content until I started taking lemon water everyday. I’ve found that it’s a great alternative without the added sugar or artificial taste and I haven’t gotten a cold in a really long time (*knock on wood*). When I have had a scratchy throat that may be indicating a cold about to come through, I would take at least 16 oz of warm lemon water and I would feel much better the next day. No scratchy throat, no cold.

Claim #3: It helps your skin. I really believe drinking lemon water everyday has helped clear up my skin over the past few months. I started to notice slight improvements, including less acne, less dullness in my complexion and possibly, even my mild rosacea seemed to have calmed down. The reason why lemons are good for the skin is they’re a good source of antioxidants, which amazing natural components found in plants that can prevent cellular damage and fight free radical that eventually lead to wrinkles, spots and other aging skin problems. You’ll notice that many skin serums contain antioxidants like vitamin C, and why skincare experts always advise you to eat more antioxidant-rich foods.

Claim #4: Lemons can boost mood and energy. This is a really interesting claim and I was so curious to see if this is true. The fresh citrus flavor seems to help awaken me when I’m feeling tired. The smell alone is always a nice scent. Thanks to lemon water, I can skip the coffee for a moment.

healthy eating while traveling

5 Lessons I’ve learned about eating healthfully while traveling

When I travel, I realized it’s not always easy to eat a healthy diet because often times, we’re staying in a hotel without a kitchen or an airbnb with limited kitchen use, so we end up eating out often! It can be easy to forget about our healthy eating goals while abroad because simply, there’s just so much explore, including cultural foods that we may not get to experience in our hometown. But as a dietitian and someone who cares about my health, it’s important  that I find practical and simple strategies to still get in healthy foods. Through my travel experiences, I have learned a few lessons on how to balance out my diet while abroad AND still enjoy the amazing foods offered in the region I’m in.

Lesson 1: If you’re traveling with someone, share plates and eat in family-style at restaurants. If you’re traveling alone, consider asking for half portion plates and pack the other half to go.

By sharing plates, you can order several different dishes without overeating portions. This means you can include new foods that you want to try, foods that you’re accustomed to and definitely some healthy dishes/sides such as a salad, roasted vegetables, whole-grain salads.

Lesson 2: If you have access to a kitchen, even if it’s limited to only a stove and a pot, utilize it for homemade meals. If you don’t have a kitchen while traveling, go explore local farmer’s markets or grocery stores for some ready-to-eat nutritious foods.

While traveling, it’s fun to mix and match between eating out and making homemade meals. It’s also fun to try to make new recipes that may be pertinent to your travels. However, making homemade meals can be a challenge if you don’t have access to a kitchen. If that is the case, you can still pick up some whole foods at a local farmer’s market or grocery stores to help balance out from eating out too often.

Lesson 3: Research restaurants ahead of time.

When possible, look through a restaurant’s menu beforehand so you can plan out what you will have. You’re more likely to order less healthy choices impulsively if you do not plan ahead of time.

Lesson 4: Stay hydrated.

Don’t forget to drink water while traveling. Our brains can misinterpret thirst for hunger, so if you’re not staying hydrated, you’re more likely to have an increased appetite or cravings, which can lead to ordering impulsively and overindulging.

Lesson 5: It’s okay if you weren’t entirely consistent during your trip, just re-focus and get back on track.

It’s important to acknowledge that while traveling, you may not be eating the way you normally do. And that itself is normal!  Take some time to figure out where to cut yourself some slack and where to practice discipline. This will require some planning. When you get back from traveling, just be diligent about getting back to eating healthfully.

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.