Wordless Wednesday: It’s All About the Food

Thanks to Create With Joy and Frugal Plus for hosting Wordless Wednesday…and Happy Birthday to that precious feline, Legend 🙂

Wordless Wednesdays

I have to bribe myself to do my cardio workout, so I save some favorite nutritious foods for post-workout snacks.

Here are my real reasons for getting on that bike:

My favorite Greek yogurt…

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Homemade guacamole…

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Whole grain toast with peanut butter (good for breakfast, too)…

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Hope to see you at Wordless Wednesday…great community!

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Fuel: What to Eat After a Workout

You’ve eaten your pre-workout snack and replenished fluids and carbs during your workout. It’s time for a quality snack or meal and more fluids to help your body recover after you exercise. There are some general guidelines for post-exercise foods, but check with your doctor if you have diabetes or other medical condition.

Remember the high-carbohydrate food you ate before your workout? You feel tired after you exercise because your body has used some of the stored carbohydrates and energy from that food. You will feel better and your muscles will recover faster if you eat a combination of carbohydrates and protein within two hours after your workout, recommends the Mayo Clinic. Replenishing carbohydrates and protein is especially important if you exercise intensely more than once a day or are training for a marathon or triathlon, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

After a 30- to 40-minute cardio workout, a light snack within 30 minutes works best for me. Good post-workout snacks with a balance of carbohydrates and protein include Greek yogurt and fruit, toast and peanut butter, or cheese and crackers. Sometimes I have half a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread.

You may want to schedule your workout before a meal. Opt for protein, fresh vegetables and carbohydrates. Protein could be meat, tofu, or beans, and good carbohydrate choices include brown rice or sweet potatoes. Low-fat foods may be easier for you to digest after exercise.

Remember to drink water or a sports drink after you exercise. If you weigh yourself before and after your workout, you’ll know the amount of fluids you need to replenish. Drink 2 or 3 cups of water for every pound you lose during your workout. A sports drink is especially helpful if you do not feel like eating as you’re cooling off and resting.

Have a great week, and let me know how you’re doing!

Fuel: What to Eat During a Workout

My last post outlined what to eat before a workout, and explained the body’s need for carbohydrates for fuel. You won’t always have to eat during a workout. During a typical 30- to 60-minute exercise session, you generally only need to worry about fluids and staying hydrated.

But if you plan to exercise for 90 minutes or more, you will need additional fuel during your workout. During prolonged exercise, your body will run out of energy from the carbohydrates you ate 30 minutes before your workout.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 30 to 60 carbohydrate grams every hour during a two- to three-hour workout. During a hike or other all-day exercise, aim for 60 to 90 carbohydrate grams per hour.

Granola Bars
Try granola or fruit for a snack before or during exercise. (Photo by jenn.b)

When you choose foods for a mid-workout snack, look for easily digested, high-carbohydrate foods. Digestion is especially an issue during prolonged high-impact exercise, such as running. You don’t want an upset stomach during your workout! In fact, a sports drink may be a better carbohydrate source than solid food during a prolonged run.

If your workout involves cycling or other low-impact exercise, try a granola bar, raisins, crackers or other light carbohydrate snack. You will still need to replenish fluids, so remember to drink water with your food. Drink 3 to 6 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes, rather than gulping large quantities all at once. If you cannot tolerate solid food during a workout, you can have a sports drink instead.

Through trial and error, you will discover the best carbohydrate fuel for your workouts. If you have diabetes or other medical condition, ask your doctor about snacks and exercising.

Next, we’ll look at fuel for recovery after exercise.

Fuel: What to Eat Before a Workout

The type of food you eat before you exercise can determine the success of your workout. Eating the wrong food at the wrong time can lead to low energy, lightheadedness and stomach upset, and can even undermine your fitness program. If you know a few basic rules, you can find pre-exercise snacks and meals that work best for you.

Caution: these are general guidelines. Ask your doctor about the best pre-workout foods for you, especially if you have diabetes or other chronic condition.

1.  Exercise 2 to 3 hours after you eat a meal. The food that you eat hours before you exercise provides the fuel for your workout. Your body needs this time after the meal to digest carbohydrates and fats before you exercise. Larger meals and meals that have high protein or fat content will take the longest time to digest.

To keep steady blood sugar and energy levels during workouts, your meals should contain 50 to 60 percent carbohydrates. Fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, such as oatmeal, brown rice and whole grain pastas are good carbohydrate sources. Include a little protein, such as an egg, nuts or sliced turkey. Your muscles will use the protein during recovery after your workout. Watch for an upcoming post about protein and post-workout food.

2. Eat a snack 30 minutes to 1 hour before you work out. A light, high-carbohydrate snack, such as a banana, crackers or a granola bar will give you energy if you eat it 30 to 60 minutes before your workout. Eating a snack immediately before you hit the treadmill may not do any harm, but your body will not have time to break down the food for energy.

My favorite pre-workout snack is whole grain toast with natural peanut butter. It’s easy to digest, and the carbohydrate-protein combination keeps my energy levels steady.

3. Hydrate! Getting enough fluids is just as important as eating the right foods when you’re going to exercise. Drink 2 cups of water 4 hours before you work out, and 1 to 1 1/2 cup of fluids 15 minutes before you exercise, recommends the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).  If your workouts last an hour or longer, drink a sports drink instead of water to help keep your electrolyte and energy levels steady.

It’s important to stay hydrated during your workout, too. If you exercise for less than an hour, ACSM recommends drinking 3 to 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout. For workouts longer than an hour, drink 3 to 8 ounces of sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Find what works for you. Certain pre-workout foods will work better for you than other foods. If you give your body time to metabolize nutritious foods rich in complex carbohydrates, you will stay energized throughout your workout.

Stay tuned for posts about eating during and after your workout. Let me know how you’re doing with your fitness goals!

Good for You: Cook With Greek Yogurt

My new favorite snack is a small container of Greek yogurt, especially black cherry or pineapple. I’ve learned that you can use plain, non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt as a healthy substitute for butter, oil and other cooking fats. It was music to my ears when my dear meat-and-potatoes-loving husband said, “We need to get more plain Greek yogurt!”

Buttery, creamy Greek yogurt adds flavor and improves texture in baked goods.

Much of the liquid is strained from Greek yogurt, so it has a thicker texture than other yogurts. With more protein and fewer carbs than regular yogurt, you’ll add a guilt-free tang to your dishes and baked foods.

For example, you can use Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese in a frosting recipe. Top a baked potato with Greek yogurt, or mix it into mashed potatoes. Use the same amount of yogurt as you wold cream cheese or sour cream, or use it in place of mayonnaise in tuna salad.

In baking recipes, you can substitute some of the oil or butter with Greek yogurt. The live yogurt cultures won’t survive the heat, but the yogurt gives baked goods a moist texture with fewer fat grams. For excellent information on measurements and substitutions for baking, visit My New 30 .

Plain Greek yogurt is a delicious topping for fresh fruit, but it’s good to know that you can cook with it, too. Check out Meg’s Kitchen on the Stoneyfield Farms website for a wide variety of recipes.

Hope you’ll try some of these ideas, and maybe share some of your own. Enjoy good foods!

Healthy Living: Natural Sweeteners

Looking for a natural sweetener for that oatmeal cookie recipe? Try date sugar!

One of the goals of a healthy diet is a lower refined sugar intake. Lately, agave nectar and stevia have received the lion’s share of attention among natural sweeteners. However, if you are looking for other alternatives to sugar, you have plenty of choices. Here are a few that you may want to add to your shopping list:

Coconut sugar — Also known as palm sugar, this sweetener looks and tastes a little like brown sugar. It comes from coconut palm nectar and is rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids.  You’ll love baking with coconut sugar because it measures the same as refined sugar. Even better, it is low on the glycemic index at 35. Coconut sugar is available at health food stores, gourmet grocery stores and online.

Date Sugar — Made from dried, ground dates, date sugar is a 1:1 substitute for brown sugar. It does have drawbacks: date sugar is relatively high-glycemic, and does not dissolve well in liquids. Like most natural sweeteners, you can find date sugar at health food stores and online.

Honey — If you want to use honey as a sugar alternative, look for unpasteurized or raw honey. Most of the honey in supermarkets is highly refined and not much better for you than refined sugar. Raw honey is a treasure trove of nutrients, including living enzymes, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins. Its antibacterial properties make it an excellent cold and flu remedy or topical first aid remedy. Never give honey, which can cause infant botulism, to a child younger than twelve months. Honey — even raw honey — is moderately-high glycemic and not the best sweetener if you are diabetic.

Molasses — Molasses — especially blackstrap molasses — is a nutritious sugar alternative. All types of unsulphered molasses contain vitamins and minerals, including iron and calcium. Only the blackstrap type is low-glycemic. The sweeter-tasting mild varieties are better for cooking and baking, but are higher on the glycemic index.

Maple Syrup — We’re talking 100% pure maple syrup, not “pancake syrup.” Fortunately, pure maple syrup is available in many grocery stores, in the same section as the pancake syrup. Although this sweetener is three times as sweet as cane sugar, it is moderately low-glycemic. It is rich in nutrients, including manganese, which has antioxidant properties.

If you are diabetic, ask your doctor before trying natural sweeteners, and monitor your blood sugar levels. However, if you are simply looking for a natural alternative to refined cane sugar, why not try some of these sweeteners? Some are a bit expensive — for example, date sugar runs between $6.00 and $7.00 for a 1 lb. bag — but you’ll notice a richer flavor and you’ll benefit from the nutrients. Online sources include Bob’s Red Mill and Amazon.

 

Benefits of an Anti-inflammatory Diet

You may have more power to improve your health than you realize. Health and diet experts, such as Andrew Weil, M.D., believe that a diet rich in whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables can reduce inflammation which can cause disease. Although inflammation is part of the body’s healing response, chronic inflammation contributes to cardiovascular disease, cancers, and other serious conditions. What triggers chronic inflammation? The usual culprits — stress, smoking, lack of exercise, and a diet high in saturated fat, hydrogenated oils, and refined sugar — are major contributors.

The good news is that a wide variety of foods can help to reduce inflammation and associated health problems. Some of your favorite foods are probably on the list! According to MetabolismAdvice.com, anti-inflammatory foods include apples, avocados, blueberries, strawberries, and other delicious fresh fruits. Good vegetable choices include sweet potatoes and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and brussels sprouts. Choose produce in a variety of colors, such as orange, green, blue and red, to ensure a variety of nutrients.

To obtain a variety of nutrients, eat fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors.

Experts increasingly agree that hydrogenated oils, such as shortening and margarine, should be avoided altogether. Extra virgin olive oil and expeller-pressed canola oil seem to be the healthiest choices for dietary fat. Anti-inflammatory advocates recommend protein from plant sources, such as beans. Oily fish, such as salmon and sardines, are bebeficial in moderation. Incidentally, this type of fish, as well as flax seed oil and hemp seed oil, are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. In recent years, omega-3s have received praise for cardiovascular and other health benefits.

Talk to your doctor about the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet. Knowledge is power: find more information at WebMD , MetabolismAdvice.com, and DrWeil.com. Be well and be blessed!