Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Post-Thanksgiving Nutrition: Recovering after the pie is gone

There comes that moment around 9pm on Thanksgiving Day when many of us think, "Wow! I ate a lot of food." So how do you recover from your day of eating without feeling like you have to turn to dieting extremes for the next week? Here are a few tips:

1. Start Thanksgiving Day with a workout
Hopefully most of you will read this today...before Thanksgiving. Start your day with a workout to kick up the calorie burn. After dinner, why not Incorporate a family walk or touch football game? Start a new tradition! Anything you can do to increase your metabolism on Thanksgiving day is a plus.

2. Wake up the next day with a fresh start
Okay so lets say you know you didn't make the best choices on Thanksgiving and you just need to start fresh on Friday. The worst thing you can do the day after Thanksgiving is skip breakfast. Perhaps you overate late into the night on Thanksgiving so you don't feel hungry at all for breakfast. Focus on high-protein options: Greek yogurt, eggs, protein shake. Stick with protein to provide yourself with slow-burning calories.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving Swaps for less saturated fat and calories

It's that time of year again: Thanksgiving. A time for family, friends and food...lots of it. While the day is traditionally filled with way too many calories, help yourself or the athlete in your life by making these easy swaps. Little changes cut down on added sugar, saturated fat, sodium and calories...but won't sacrifice flavor. And yes - I get that this is only one day so you think you should be able to eat whatever you want. But if you can make these changes without even tasting the difference, why wouldn't you?

Baste with low-sodium/low-fat broth or olive oil. Season with herbs and spice. While the white meat is lower in fat, the dark meat is higher in vitamins and minerals. So a little of each is okay.

Mashed Potatoes
Substitute trans-fat free tub margarine for butter, sub non-fat plain Greek yogurt for sour cream and sub non-fat milk for cream/whole milk. Cut the added salt by half. Consider sweet potatoes versus white, which are lower in calories and higher in vitamins and minerals. If you go the sweet potato route, spice to your heart's delight but go easy on the brown sugar or marshmallows where calories can add up quickly. Try keeping them plain enough that you can actually taste the potato. When mashing, leave in some of the skin, which is where most of the fiber lies.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Vitamins, Protein, Water: Can too much be bad?

When it comes to "good nutrition", the attitude seems to be that if a little is good then more must be better. But of course nutrition couldn't be that black and white. Not everything is best in large quantities.

1. Vitamins and Minerals
Multivitamins as well as individual vitamin and mineral supplements are very popular among athletes. They are often used as an "insurance policy" in case needed amounts are not met with food. While this may not seem harmful, some vitamins and minerals in large quantities are in fact harmful. Two examples are Vitamins A and E. The theory was that vitamins A and E from food act as antioxidants in the body, so taking supplemental vitamin A and E should only enhance this effect and provide further protection. However, a meta-analysis showed that in high quantities, supplemental doses actually increased rather than decreased risk of death - Vitamin A by 16% and Vitamin E by 4%. One reason is that these are both fat-soluble vitamins, which means they more easily build up in the body rather than being excreted, as seen with water-soluble Vitamin C (1).

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How do I carb load?

Carbohydrate loading is a practice that has been shown in research to benefit those participating in competitive endurance events lasting >90 minutes. Since glycogen (stored carbohydrate in muscle) levels decrease quickly during moderate to intense exercise, the body must be given ample carbohydrates (carb) in the days leading up to the event to adequately stock the muscles.

The When and The How: Proper Regimen
1. Begin by increasing carb food intake to 8-12g/kg body weight for the first two of the three days prior to the event/race. [that means Thursday & Friday for a Sunday race.] For a 145lb individual, this would be 527-790gm daily.                     
2. When choosing carbs, emphasize complex carbs (fruits and vegetables in all forms) and distribute them at all meals and snacks during the day, while avoiding simple carbs (sugars such as candy and pop).
3. Resume your normal intake of carbs the day before the race or event (typically 5-8 g/kg body weight). For a 145lb individual, this would be 330-527gm daily. 

Note: The idea here is not to increase total calories, but to adjust intake to result in a greater percentage of calories from carbohydrate (vs. protein or fat ).