Thursday, February 21, 2013

Just Eat It :)

Your Questions Answered

What to eat pre-workout

Our bodies use calories for energy, not a news flash.  The part that gets tricky is when we try to figure out how many and how often we need them.  There is no hard rule as to how far in advance you need to fuel your workout.  Some people can eat 5 minutes before a workout, while others need a little more time to fuel.  If you workout very early in the morning, you may even have enough fuel from what you ate the night before.  For me, I prefer to have something within the hour prior to my workout.  Carbohydrates are the bodies fastest source of energy, so you'll want your snack to include some carbs.  Protein is digested a little more slowly, so having a little protein in there will help you finish your workout strong.  You don't need a ton of calories, but of course this is all relative to how intense your workout are.  Here are some typical pre-workout foods that I recommend:

3 Ingredient cookies from Skinnytaste.com

These are great & so simple!

2 bananas
1 cup of oats
1/4 cup crushed walnuts

You just combine these 3 ingredients (peel and mash bananas...I assume that goes without saying, but just in case...) drop by tablespoonfuls on cookie sheet and bake at 350º for 15 minutes.

Other options:

An apple and a 1/2 cup of greek yogurt

A small sweet potato topped with greek yogurt (mix a little honey and cinnamon into the greek yogurt for added antioxidants and fast acting carbohydrates...oh, and deliciousness)

A few apricots and 1/4 cup of pistachios

A cucumber and a Babybel Light

1 tablespoon of almond butter on a rice cake

You get the idea?  A little bit of protein & some carbs.  A little bit of healthy fat is OK, but not too much.  You don't want something that takes a long time to digest to be sitting in your stomach while you workout.  It will just slow you down.  This is just a small snack.  You don't need much, so keep the portion small.  Under 200 calories.  If you have lunch a few hours before your workout, you might not need anything until after your workout.  Bottom line, listen to your body and it won't take long for you to figure out how much is enough.  Don't forget the water!  Staying well hydrated all day will be one of the most important factors in fueling your workout.

What to eat post workout

This can be a controversial subject as well.  Muscles are composed of about 75% water and 25% protein, so it makes sense that if you want to maintain and build lean mass, you'll want to be well hydrated and have adequate protein intake.  Post workout, carbohydrates are metabolized quickly and fuel muscle recovery the fastest so you want a nice balance of about 60% carbs and 40% protein.  This is what is recommended by most in the industry.  If I'm being completely honest, I probably flop my ratios and get 40% carbs and 60% protein.  I've played around with my post workout nutrition for years, and this seems to be what works best for me.  Over time, you'll settle into what works best for you.  Don't panic, 10-20% fluctuation in this ratio will not derail your progress if you are fueling your body with proper nutrition on a regular basis.  P.S.  The more muscle you have, the more protein you can metabolize.  

This guy:

 Needs more protein than I do:

Different goals=different caloric needs.  So, generally speaking, these are your best post workout options:

The classic post-workout protein shake is what I go to most often:

Other great options are:

Egg whites and salsa-I'm a huge fan of whole eggs.  The yolks have plenty of good nutrition in them, but right after a workout the fat will slow the delivery of protein to the muscles, so post workout-keep it to egg whites.  On a typical large egg each egg white has about 20 calories and 3.3 grams of protein.  

Kefir-Lifeway is a popular brand.

If it's mealtime after your workout and you want something a little more substantial, then just stick with something like Chicken breast and a sweet potato or Tuna with asparagus.  Think lean protein and a vegetable.  

What to do in between

If you are looking for something to do in between your pre and post-workout snacks/meals, try my group workout from yesterday:

The only equipment your need are some dumbbells.  Let me know if you have any questions!!

Saturday, February 9, 2013


What to do with it:

I recently added my top 5 pantry staples and I've have a lot of inquiries about what to do with them.  As with any exercise program or nutrition plan, it only works if you use it.  So, here are my suggestions for chia seeds:

For chia seeds I like to make a really simple jelly with them.  You take about a cup and a half of your favorite fruit (fresh or frozen) and blend it in a blender or food processor (you may have to add a few spoonfuls of water depending on what type of fruit you use),  then add about 2 tablespoons of whole chia seeds.  Let it sit for about an hour.  The chia seeds gel up and add to the jam like consistency.  Voilá!  Jam/Jelly!  No added sugar + fiber and Omega 3 :)  I just made some with pineapple because I have a pineapple and not much else right now.  So we'll see if pineapple jam works as well as raspberry (which is the only kind I've made prior to this experiment).

Another all time favorite use for chia seeds...overnight oats!!  Whoever came up with the idea for overnight oats deserves a prize of some sort.  I did attempt to Google who the original inventor was, but the results are inconclusive.  In case you have no clue what I'm talking about, let me enlighten you.  The night before you know you are going to want an oatmeal type breakfast with plenty of protein in it, you take 3/4 cup of whole oats, 2/3 cup of plain greek yogurt, 2 tbsp of chia seeds, 1/2 cup of whatever type of milk you like to use:

The oats I'm using have pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, cashew pieces, quinoa and almond pieces already mixed into the oats, but you can use plain oats and add what you'd like to jazz it up, later.  Just mix it all together:

Put it in the fridge overnight and tomorrow it will be thick and gooey (in a good way).  You will probably need to add a little more milk in the morning to thin it out.  You can also add a little honey or some fruit...or maybe your chia seed "jam" and/or a few nuts/seeds.  You eat it cold and this recipe makes 2 servings, so you can share.

If you need a few more ideas for your chia seeds, you can check out these links:

10 Uses For Chia Seeds

Chia Seed Pudding

Dr. Oz's opinion on Chia Seeds

I'm Listening

If you have questions about exercise, nutrition or anything in between, let me know.  I'm happy to feature your questions on this blog or talk to you privately.  If you have a burning inquiry, chances are many others do too.  Feel free to be the voice and I'll do my best to offer you some answers.  Even better, if I don't know the answer, I'd love to be challenged to learn something new and research the answer for you!

(Me searching for the answers)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Fab 5 in the Pantry

5 Items I Always Keep in My Pantry

The pantry isn't always a place you go to for healthy options.  This is often where we store our processed, non-perishable foods.  However, there are some pantry staples that you can use to optimize you health.  My can't-live-without pantry items are as follows (in non-discriminatory order):

1.) Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a heart healthy fat that can actually help you burn fat.  True story, eating fat doesn't always=gaining weight.  The type of fat in coconut oil is called lauric acid.  This is a medium chain triglyceride (MCT if you will).  MCT's are more easily absorbed than LCT's (long chain triglycerides) which makes them an excellent choice for people with digestive issues.  Coconut oil also has a higher smoking point than many other oils used for cooking.  This just means that you can heat it to a higher point without damaging it's structure.  This makes it a great oil to cook with.  There are also studies that support evidence that coconut oil helps our bodies regulate blood sugar levels, increase thyroid function (hence a faster metabolism), and aid in absorption of other nutrients (=gorgeous skin, hair and nails).  

2.) Raw Cider Vinegar

If you know me at all, you've probably heard me sing praise about this one.  Raw cider vinegar that still has the 'mother' in it can be your go to product for all that ails you.  Drinking raw cider vinegar helps keep the blood in the body more alkaline.  This is key to preventing illness.  If you like you are coming down with something, you can drink a few tablespoons of this three times per day.  I add a tiny pinch of baking soda to it as well.  You can also use it to aid in digestion.  Just put a few tablespoons in 8oz of water and drink it about 30 minutes before eating.  Additionally, it can be used as a natural energy boost.  You can drink it straight up or make your own energy drink by adding a few tablespoons to 12oz of water with freshly grated ginger a a teaspoon or 2 of honey.  

3.) Loose Tea Leaves

Brewing tea can be therapeutic in and of itself.  The ritual of boiling the water and hearing the kettle whistle and the warm feeling of holding the perfectly brewed cup can really make you appreciate the simple things in life.  Aside from the gratitude this ritual may release, an entire host of good is happening inside your body once the tea is ingested.  Loaded with flavonoids (a specific type of antioxidant), tea helps fight against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, clogged arteries, etc.  There are many types of tea to choose from and different types are known for protecting different body parts and organs.  You can click here for more information about which teas protect against what.

4.) Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.   Omega-3 fats are all the rage because they are essential fats the help protect our most significant assets, the brain and the heart.  The body can't produce these fats on it's own, so you need to add them to your diet to keep your ticker ticking and to support brain function.  What can Omega-3 fats help you prevent?  Heart disease, hypertension, depression, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, healthy brain development in babies (both in the womb and post partum) and joint paint.  So, no big deal.  Eat it or don't...no, seriously EAT THE FAT!

5) Meal Replacement

Life happens.  Somedays we just don't have enough time to fit it all in.  When you just "don't have time" and you are tempted to grab something quick and dirty, go for a fortified meal replacement instead.  Pick one that offers plenty of vitamins and a good balance of carbohydrates and protein.  I like the two pictured above because they taste great and they keep me full.  The Raw Meal provides 34 grams of protein per serving (I often just make a half serving and it's enough).  It also contains 20 vitamins and minerals, probiotics and digestive enzymes, 16 grams of fiber and it's made from raw, plant based, whole foods.  This also makes a great breakfast if you are on the run in the morning and you have to eat on the go.  My favorite way to have it is blended with some flax seed milk and a spoon of almond butter.

So, there you have it.  My fab 5 in the pantry.  I have some other favorites that I'm happy to share later. Now it's your turn.  What pantry staples are on your 'can't live without' list?