‘Water’ You Drinking?

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The summer may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean that your level of hydration should take a dip as well. Through the summer months it’s important to keep your body hydrated for a number of reasons. Did you know that our body uses 2 to 3 quarts of water per day to keep up basic functions such as body temperature regulation and metabolic processes? As a point of reference, that’s anywhere from 64 to 96 fluid ounces of liquid! Not only is water needed for homeostasis, but it is essential for joints and muscle mass. Think of it as the fluffy pillow of fluid between your bone and cartilage. Don’t be discouraged, though; there are plenty of ways to incorporate water into your diet. It doesn’t have to be all about plain old H2O! Keep these tips in mind as you “wet” your appetite.

1. Skip the Cubism — It’s easy to get your chill on while keeping hydrated. Toss some fresh berries, sliced peaches and pineapple wedges into the freezer. The next time you’re craving a chilly refresher, use the frozen fruit instead of regular ice cubes. Not only will the fruit cool down your glass of water, but it also adds taste without tons of calories! Once you’ve slurped down your beverage, enjoy the fruit for a boost of filling fiber.

2. Find Some Flavor — I often hear complaints from clients about the lack of flavor in water. No argument here — water definitely isn’t the most daring of beverage choices. Keep it interesting by adding Nuun All Day flavor tablets. They have fewer than 10 calories per tab and come in some amazing flavor combinations like Tangerine Lime and Cucumber Mint.  A simple plop, plop, fizz, fizz and you’ve got yourself some serious hydration! They also have high levels of potassium and magnesium, which are essential nutrients when it comes to your fluid electrolyte balance, cell growth and muscle contractions. Toss a few in your gym bag to avoid dehydration after an intense workout, or add a couple tablets to a pitcher of water and pour into Popsicle molds. Stick in the freezer for the perfect summertime treat.

3. Get It in Early — This is one of my favorite tips to offer up to clients. Aim to reach at least half of your hydration goal by noon. This way, you’ll feel less pressured as the day wears on. I call it the Liter by Lunch. It’s not uncommon for one to let a whole morning pass away and consume only a single cup of coffee. Instead, commit to a full glass before your AM java jolt. Keep a water bottle in front of your computer screen or by your phone at all times. We use these items so frequently, and the visual reminder of water next to them can result in increased sippage!

4. Consider Double-Fisting — Just kidding, well, sort of. Before heading out for a long night, you’ll want to start off with one large bottle of water. This sets the hydration precedence for the entire night. Follow up by alternating between one alcoholic drink and one non-alcoholic drink. This doesn’t mean you can imbibe soda, juice or tea instead. Keep your non-alcoholic choice to either water or seltzer. Be sure to steer clear of tonic.  People tend to think it’s similar to seltzer or club soda, but it actually contains just as many calories as soda and juice.

5. Eat to Hydrate — Don’t get caught up in thinking that all your liquid requirements have to come from a glass. There are plenty of foods that have high water content to quench your thirst. Celery takes the prize by having 95 percent water content, in addition to essential electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium and potassium. Veggies like cucumbers and bell peppers pack a satisfying crunch yet tons of H2O! Or choose fruits such as watermelon, strawberries, and cantaloupe for seasonal satisfaction. Not only do these foods up your hydration ante, but they also have a significant filling effect on the stomach. This means you’ll consume less but feel fuller. Perfect for weight loss!

Water plays a significant role in weight loss, athletic performance and day-to-day functioning. So the next time you want to reach for that iced tea or soda, consider the abovementioned five tips. Keeping hydrated has never been so easy!

Get Out to Get Fit!

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The amazing things about summer can also be the most detrimental to your workout routine. We often opt for spending the majority of our time outside on a beautiful sunny day or laying beachside during the much needed summer vacation in lieu of a sweaty cardio session and grueling free weight repetitions in a low-lit, stinky gym indoors. And I don’t blame you, but we have to keep up the good work and stay healthy, even in the summer. If you’re worried about staying on top of your exercise routine in the summer, don’t sweat it. These are my helpful tips and tricks that will make it a breeze to squeeze in your fitness routine while still enjoying your vacation as well as the best ways to optimize your exercise routine outdoors.

 

Traveling can be extremely detrimental to your exercise routine- not only do you not want to exercise while on vacation but it messes up your schedule, making it difficult to get back on track once you’ve returned home. Plus, the resorts’ infamous local fish tacos, bottomless strawberry daiquiris, and decadent molten flourless chocolate cake quite literally weighs down your motivation to take that early morning run on the beach you promised yourself you would do every day. Working out while on vacation is a struggle in itself so let’s start by making realistic goals- ditch the 7 am run on the beach and pick one of my favorite ways to stay in shape while traveling and to return home healthier than when you left.

 

Nu-Train Travel Tips:

  1. Pack your 6-pack: There is no reason to not bring your favorite workout with you; exercise DVDs are the easiest way to stay fit on vacation and they take up almost no space in your suitcase so your cute new wedges will still fit in your overstuffed bag! I make sure to never leave without my physique57, yoga or boot camp DVD. It’s also extremely easy to throw in lightweight exercise equipment like a yoga mat or resistance bands. If you are bringing your computer along for the trip you can always visit Shape.com for workout videos online.
  2. See the sites: While a 7 am run may not be on the agenda, that doesn’t mean you need to cut into your site seeing time to get an afternoon workout in. I love to use Map My Run (www.mapmyrun.com) to find local running trails that are scenic; ditch the car and get a workout in and explore the area by running, hiking, rock climbing or riding bikes.
  3. Do as the locals do: No matter if you’re traveling near or far there is always something cultural that you can do for exercise. Do a little research ahead of time or once at your hotel inquire about exercise activities- it could be anything from a unique form of martial arts or dance to a great boot camp class. This is a great way to spend quality time with your family too; it’ll be an experience you’ll never forget!
  4. No equipment? No problem: The easiest cop-out for not exercising on vacation is the lack of facilities available at the resort. Get your cardio in by doing something outside and try my top 10 in house moves that will keep you toned without needing any equipment. Try doing two-to-three sets for best results.
    1. Burpees/Squat Thrusts
    2. Push Ups
    3. Wall sits
    4. Plank
    5. Tuck Jump
    6. Supermans
    7. Plies
    8. Mountain Climbers
    9. Sumo Squats
    10. Roundhouse Kicks

 

So, what about all of the days we aren’t on vacation but the beautiful weather makes us feel guilty if we don’t spend time outdoors? Thankfully this isn’t actually a problem! There are endless options for exercising outdoors: biking, swimming, skating, volleyball, soccer, kayaking… really the list could go on for the rest of this post so I think I’ll stop there. However, when you want to optimize your outdoor workout, there are some activities that are better than others. Let’s break them down so we can slim you down.

Outdoor Activities

Running: Leading the pack, running is your go-to outdoor exercise to burn the most calories. It’s also a great way to explore your city; running at 7-mile per hour pace for 1 hour burns nearly 700 calories! However, if you are running on the beach or concrete it can be extremely hard on your knees and lower-back so take that into consideration if you have any injuries. Try finding a local outdoor track to relieve the stress on your joints.

Swimming: If you’re catching rays poolside- jump in! Did you know swimming at 50-yards-per minute can burn over 500 calories in one hour? Don’t forget about kickboards and water aerobics either! These are great ways to tone your legs to get long, lean muscles so swim your way to slim.

Biking: While the weather is nice (unfortunately it’ll be cold again before we know it), grab that bike out of your storage unit and start biking to and from work. Biking at 12-14 miles per hour for an hour burns up to 560 calories, and it’s a great way to avoid the gym and save time, leaving more time to spend with your friends and family at that great new restaurant with outdoor seating you’ve been dying to try!

In-line Skating: I know it feels like forever since you slapped on those blades and went for a skate, but this summer it’ll let you burn calories while rediscovering your youth! This fun workout is shockingly effective- skating at 12-14 miles per hour can burn around 500 calories. Just don’t forget your helmet and knee-pads if it’s been a while since you’ve been on 8 wheels.

Volleyball: Often overlooked, volleyball is a fun group activity for the summer that is so enjoyable you won’t even realize how many calories you’ve worked off. An hour long game can burn about 480 calories and leave you sore in muscles you didn’t realize existed!

Kayaking: For the adventure-seeker this is the perfect way to enjoy mother nature and work on your core and arms. Burning more than 350 calories per hour and trying something new…. Where do I sign up?

Soccer: Try organizing a pick up soccer game with your friends. Since soccer is primarily a running sport, you can burn more than 600 calories per hour if you are continuously moving.

 

And when you’re looking for something to compliment your workout, or just want to do something active outside, try taking an outdoor yoga class, doing yard work, horseback riding or even washing your car. All of these activities burn at least 200 calories in an hour!

 

So now you know… get out and get healthy!

 

Hungry for Exercise!

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Happy New Year!! It’s the beginning of the year, which is filled with wonderful resolutions and goals to better yourself and your life. One of the most common resolutions is to up your gym going or to start exercising again. Unfortunately exercise is not a proven method for weight loss, 90% of weight loss ultimately stems from diet and the remaining 10% from exercise. If you are trying to lose weight and are incorporating exercise into your plan (which I highly recommend), start by focusing strictly on your diet for the first two weeks and then hit the gym. Focusing on your diet for the first couple of weeks instead of rushing to the gym will allow time for your body to naturally lose that lingering holiday bloat, amp up your energy levels, and give you deeper sleeps for a more energized morning workout. It’s best to set realistic goals about both your diet and exercise plans- trying to wake up at an insane hour and go to the gym everyday when you didn’t have a gym membership in 2009, does not pave the road to success; if you don’t stick exactly in line with your plan, don’t jump ship either and backtrack on your diet.

Even before you are standing at the gym anxiously awaiting the next open treadmill start thinking about ways to improve your diet. Some easy suggestions for bettering your diet are to record what you eat, ditch those white, refined and processed sugars (muffins, scones, pastas, pizza, sweets, bagels etc) and reach for whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables and drink at least 8 cups of water a day (shoot for 1 liter of water by lunch).

However, exercise has a multitude of health benefits, and 30-45 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily physical activity is recommended 5 times a week. I know this may seem like a ridiculous amount, especially if your goal is just to start going to the gym again, but you can build up to it.

“Diet and Exercise” is a phrase everyone has heard in regards to weight loss and weight maintenance. They seem to go together like scrambled eggs and toast. While no one seems to be questioning it’s effectiveness anymore, why is this dynamic duo such dynamite? Caloric restriction (diet) is the only proven method for weight loss, but exercise is integral in maintaining your weight and keeping off those shed pounds. However, not all exercise is created equal. Research shows that it is not just the duration of your exercise but also the intensity of your workout (think about investing in a heart rate monitor). It is important to try to target your heart rate at 65% for as long as you can and to maximize your heart rate with an aerobic push at 85% at least once (it is impossible to maintain this heart rate for a long time, it usually lasts for about 30 seconds – use the formulas below to calculate yours). Hitting these target heart rates is considered vigorous physical activity. Physical activity’s literal definition is any planned or structured movement by the body that uses energy. So, this can be walking, running, pushing a baby stroller, rock climbing, dancing at a party, playing basketball and even climbing up stairs!

65% intensity = (220 − (age)) × 0.65
85% intensity = (220 − (age)) × 0.85

Exercise is a key player in leading a healthier, longer and happier life. It relieves stress, aids in maintaining a healthy weight, lowers your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes, helps control blood pressure, and improves self-esteem by reducing feelings of depression and anxiety. And if these benefits haven’t convinced you, it will also increase your fitness level, build and maintain bones, muscles and joints, develop endurance and strength and enhance flexibility and posture.

Now, lets be realistic. Breaking a sweat is easier said than done. Motivation is key and setting realistic micro-goals along the way to lead you to your ultimate goal is the most effective way to cross the finish line, and then keep going. I know how difficult it is to incorporate exercise into your daily routine; between work and family it seems like a low priority. Why are there only 24 hours in a day?! But once you get into a routine it becomes habit like brushing your teeth, you can’t go a day without doing it! I’ve compiled a list of tricks, tips and to dos in order to maximize your work out and how to sneak it in your busy lifestyle just when you think there aren’t enough hours in a day.

10 Tips, Tricks and To Dos:

  1. No time for the gym? Consider killing two birds with one stone by switching up your commute. I’ve gotten in the habit of running to or from work. Biking and waking up a bit early for a brisk walk to work can also do the trick. Regardless, aim for about 30 minutes of a moderate to vigorous cardio workout.
  2. Keep yourself entertained during the workout. This can be anything from creating a energizing playlist on your iPod/mp3 player, watching your favorite TV show, using Wii Fit, or downloading a personal training track to your iPod. If you are one of those people who hate repetition or gets bored on the tredmill, take a dance class! Keeping yourself engaged will make the workout pass quicker and more enjoyable.
  3. When you didn’t go the gym that day… do not stress, there are a multitude of activities you can do right in the comfort of your own home. Dips while watching TV, abs on your child’s bedroom floor while he/she falls asleep, walking lunges around your living room or running up/down your flight of stairs. For bursts of energy, if you are ever faced with the choice of an elevator or stairs- always opt for the stairs!
  4. Intervals are key! Interval training is a proven method for reaching your maximum heart rate. Most cardio machines now have an interval option but there are also gym classes that incorporate this type of training. You can also do intervals yourself: sprint for 30 seconds, walk/jog for 1 minute and repeat for up to thirty minutes.
  5. Mix it up! When you have no motivation, take a spin class (Soul Cycle, Fly Wheels), a weight training class (Whipped!), a dance class (Zumba!), yoga or pilates- these teachers are trained to keep you engaged and to motivate you. Yoga is also a great way to tighten your abs and strengthen your back muscles, which are hardest to strengthen and often get overlooked.
  6. Don’t forget about weight training. You should aim to do weights 2-3 times a week to build and strengthen your muscles. I target my biceps, triceps and shoulders since those are used least in cardio workouts. And don’t be afraid to use the machines, or grab a body bar- they are there for you!
  7. Change the channel… to the exercise channel on your TV. There are great exercising tips and new exercises that will keep your work out fresh.
  8. Dress the part. It may seem silly, but wearing tighter clothes to exercise in will improve your workout. Baggy clothes weigh you down and can get in the way.
  9. Sip don’t gulp. Make sure you hydrate 30 minutes prior to your workout but only sip your water during it. Also, don’t eat within 30 minutes of beginning exercise because your body will not have digested yet. Post workout, it is important to refuel on electrolytes, protein and some carbohydrates to compensate for essential nutrients that have been lost through sweat during exercise. An apple with peanut butter or a nutritious smoothie fits the bill.
  10. Stretch!! I know you want to just race out of the gym but you need to cool down your muscles. Be sure to take 5 minutes at the end of your workout to stretch. This will also improve your flexibility!

After reading these 10 tips and tricks, I hope you’re ready to put your best foot forward to reach your goals!

Behind Bars

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Many people assume that granola bars are healthy because they contain the word ‘granola’. Not necessarily! Unfortunately, most of today’s granola and snack bars are sugar-coated, filled with candy fixin’s like chocolate and marshmallows, and laden with high fructose corn syrup as well as countless other ingredients that I can’t even pronounce, let alone spell.

But not all bars are bad. Many, in fact, include a healthy dose of fiber as well as natural ingredients like nuts and oats. Bars can also be a great afternoon snack idea because they are convenient, compact and individually wrapped – great for portion control. And they’re definitely easy to eat on the go. Today, my team and I have put together our recommendations on the best (and worst) bars out there.

Bar Basics

Calories - Eaten as an afternoon snack, a bar should ideally be less than 200 calories. And interestingly, often the bars that are higher in calories are also higher in sugar and/or saturated fat.

Fiber - Since fiber helps keep you full and satisfied (since it takes longer to digest), bars should have some fiber to fill you up. Aim for a bar with 3 or more grams of fiber.

Protein - Protein is another key ingredient to help keep you feeling full in the afternoon. Try to reach for a bar with at least 7 grams of protein.

Sodium - Who would have thought that many bars contain a lot of sodium?! Often, when bars are low in fat, salt is needed to repalce the flavor lost when fat is removed. Go for bars with less than 60mg of sodium.

Sugar - Most bars out there are loaded with sugar to help improve their taste. Compare the grams of sugar to the grams of fiber in a bar and aim for a ratio of no more than 3 to 1. For instance, if a bar has 4 grams of fiber, it should have no more than 12 grams of sugar.

Unfortunately, it’s quite difficult to find bars that meet all of our requirements. So the bottom line is choose the bars that keep you the most satisfied without making you crave more. And even the best bars don’t hold a candle to fruits, vegetables and yogurt. So choose bars when you’re on the go and don’t have access to fresh produce and low-fat dairy products

Heather’s Bar Picks

Choose:

Regular – Luna Bar in Caramel Nut Brownie

Raw – Organic Fiber Bar in Chocolate Dream or Apple Apple

Lose:

Snickers Marathon Energy Bars – These bars are overloaded with sugar (15-21 grams of sugar per bar) – YIKES!

Stephanie’s Bar Picks

Choose:

Regular– Kind Bar in Almond & Apricot

Raw – Wild Bar in Mayan Spice

Lose:

Special K Cereal Bars – Although it’s low in calories (90 calories), it has a higher sodium content than the typical bar (120mg) and has hydrogenated oils and a large ingredient list

Dara’s Bar Picks

Choose:

Regular – TLC Kashi Bar in Pumpkin Spice Flax

Raw- Larabar’s in Peanut Butter & Jelly

Lose:

Fiber One Bars – These bars have too many unhealthy ingredients including high fructose corn syrup and high maltose corn syrup

How To Improve Athletic Performance Through Diet

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Hydration

The key to a successful workout is staying well hydrated before, during and after. Long workouts, excessive heat and humidity and fluid losses through sweat can significantly affect your ability to exercise and compete.

Hydration Tips

  • Drink one to two glasses of water when you get up in the morning
  • Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day
  • Drink one to two cups of fluid 30 minutes before exercise
  • Drink 1/2-1 cup of fluid for each 15 minutes of exercise
  • Replenish lost fluids after workouts (2 1/2 cups for every pound lost)
  • Water is fine for lower intensity exercise lasting 45 minutes or less. Sports drinks are a better option for higher intensity exercise lasting 60 minutes or more.

Carbohydrates

  • The goal for active individuals is to eat 55-65% of total calories as carbohydrate.
  • Complex carbohydrates include starchy or fibrous foods that rank low on the Glycemic Index (GI).
  • Foods with a high Glycemic Index rating, like sugars, are very quickly converted into energy and will not leave you feeling satisfied for long.
  • Raw foods, such as fruits and vegetables or foods high in fiber, such as wheat breads and bran cereals, rank lower on the Glycemic Index. These take more time for the body to digest, providing you with sustained energy.
  • Low-GI foods should constitute about 45 percent of your total caloric intake and are the ones you want to consume a few hours before your classes or rehearsals, as well as throughout the day.
  • Finally, combining high-GI carbohydrates with protein, fat or low-GI foods lowers a meal’s total GI and leaves you feeling satisfied for longer.

Q: Will Carbs Make Me Fat?
Any food eaten in the appropriate serving size will not make you gain weight, but calories in excess of your bodies metabolic needs will, whether they come from fat, carbohydrates or protein. Often it’s fat-laden goodies piled on top of carbs that are the weight culprit, such as sour cream on potatoes, butter on bread and cream sauces over pasta.

Identifying realistic portion sizes for carbohydrates can be challenging. A single serving of pasta (2 oz. dry) is 220 calories. Most restaurants serve you two or three times that, plus all the bread you can consume. Learn what constitutes a serving and pay close attention to food labels.

Protein

  • Choose lean protein to repair tissues and build muscle.
  • A good goal is 3 servings of dairy products daily (1 cup of yogurt or milk, 1 oz of cheese, 1 cup frozen yogurt), AND at least one good meat or high quality vegetarian protein source (3 oz. Turkey, a chicken breast, hamburger, bean burrito, hummus on pita). The goal for active individuals is to eat lO-l5% of total calories as protein.
  • An easy calculation for athletes is .5-. 8 grams/pound of body weight.. a value 1.65 times higher than the RDA for sedentary people but not nearly as much as high-protein diets suggest.
  • An athlete who weighs 132 pounds (60 kg) would need about 80 grams of protein daily.
  • Over the course of a day, a well balanced diet sufficient in protein might include 4 ounces of roasted chicken breast, 3 ounces of salmon, and a cup of yogurt along with plenty of complex carbohydrates.

Why high protein diets don’t work for athletes:

High-protein diets like Atkins are also generally high in fat, inadequate in calories, and severely restrict the intake of carbohydrates. Dancers who consume too little protein are at greater risk for missing periods, suffering from stress fractures, lacking sufficient nutrients, and destroying lean muscle mass. When we consume too much protein our body protects itself by converting toxic ammonia into urea, which is then excreted by the kidneys. People with inflamed kidneys can suffer from low back pain or even worse. If your leotard or sweatshirt smells like ammonia after a workout, it’s a pretty good indication that you need to reduce the amount of protein in your diet.

Fats

  • Moderation is the key here. Fat is a good energy source, carries fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) to tissues and adds flavor and texture to foods.
  • Generally, if you are eating a balanced diet with a variety of different foods your fat intake will be just about right.
  • Don’t stress about counting fat grams, choose healthy low-fat choices most of the time.
  • The goal for active individuals is to eat 20-30% of total calories as fat.
    Example: Total calorie intake is 2400 calories per day means an average fat intake of 53-80 grams of fat per day.

Calcium

By consuming 300 calories of calcium-rich foods each day, such as yogurt, skim milk, broccoli or pudding, you supply your teeth and bones with the 1,200 mg of calcium needed to help prevent stress fractures today and osteoporosis in the future. Dairy products are the best sources of calcium and of the many other important vitamins and minerals crucial for bone health, such as phosphorous and vitamin D. If you are lactose intolerant or vegan, you may want to include lactose-reduced dairy products, nondairy foods such as calcium-rich tofu, calcium-fortified orange juice, broccoli and other leafy greens, or even a supplement containing calcium carbonate or calcium phosphate—two forms of calcium that are easily used by the body.

Iron

When the body’s red blood cells or hemoglobin (iron-carrying protein in the blood) dip too low, a condition called anemia sets in. Anemia has several underlying causes, but iron deficiency is the most common. Females are particularly susceptible because they lose blood each month during their periods and because their bodies are not as efficient in storing iron as men’s bodies are. The best sources of iron are meats, such as beef, pork and lamb, because the body absorbs and uses iron from meat more easily than it does the iron in other foods. Vitamin C is a key iron-helper, so eat citrus fruit or have a glass of orange juice along with your fortified grains. This is especially important if the iron source is cereal, because milk is one of the foods that blocks iron absorption. While the best source of iron is food, a daily multivitamin will help reinforce your iron stores. But be careful about popping iron pills. A healthy person’s iron requirements are relatively low; too much iron can trigger stomach upset and constipation.

Pre-Exercise Eating

Two hours before a practice or game, eat a small meal (200-300 calories) consisting of a serving each of grain, fruit/vegetable and protein—for example: a turkey, lettuce and tomato sandwich on a bagel, no butter. Bring along some water or an energy drink to sip during breaks. And have a healthy snack (75 percent carbs, 25 percent protein) handy for right after your class to replenish depleted glycogen stores in your muscles.

Glycemic Index and Exercise Performance

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The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate-containing foods that is based on the food’s effect on blood sugar as compared with a standard reference food’s effect. Though the GI was originally devised to aid diabetics, it is now extensively used in sports nutrition to aid athletes in the selection of appropriate carbohydrates to choose for training. In a 2006 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers investigated the effects of meals with different glycemic indexes on the metabolic response during exercise in women. Eight active women participated in two trials. In each trial they received a test breakfast 3 hours before performing a 60 minute run. The first trial consisted of a high-glycemic breakfast, while the second was low-glycemic. Researchers found that the low-glycemic breakfast resulted in a higher rate of fat oxidation during exercise than did a high-glycemic meal. While endurance athletes may require the higher glycemic meal, those individuals desiring weight loss may benefit from consuming lower-glycemic foods prior to exercise.

Marathon Eating 101

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Running a marathon, or training for any big sport’s event, is a huge commitment, and takes months of preparation. Training, however, does not simply consist of sprints, scrimmages, or other heart-pumping related activities. A major component is nutrition. Without proper fuel for your body, you will be unable to reach your maximum potential.

There are four nutrients on which to focus during training. These include water, carbohydrates, protein, and fat. When you drink enough water and eat a balanced diet, your body can work efficiently and provide energy to fuel performance.

Water
Water makes up 60 percent of your body and is involved in essentially every bodily process. Unlike with other nutrients, your body cannot store excess water – you must replace whatever you lose. There is a fine line, however, between drinking too little and drinking too much. If you drink too little, you run the risk of dehydration, which hampers performance and increases the risk of heat illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Conversely, too much fluid puts you at risk for hyponatremia. Hyponatremia is a condition that occurs when the level of sodium in the blood drops too low. Although rare, hyponatremia can result in seizure, coma, or death. Those at risk are people who drink too much and do not adequately replace the sodium lost in sweat.

The best way to prevent hyponatremia and dehydration is to learn the correct way to hydrate.

* Drink to Hydrate: Your fluid-replacement goal is to drink the perfect amount of fluid, resulting in neither weight loss or weight gain. A helpful tool may be to estimate your sweat rate. Weigh yourself before and after a workout. Then account for fluid consumed during training and add this to the total weight loss.

For instance, if you lost 1 pound (16 oz) during 1 hour of training, and drank 16 oz, you should drink 32oz (16 + 16) each hour during similar intensity exercise training.
* Include More Salt: Salt is lost through sweat, so make certain to replace all of the salt lost during training. Consider including more salty snacks (i.e. pretzels or crackers) into your diet.

* Invest in Sports Drinks: Drinks, such as Gatorade®, help keep your body hydrated while replacing essential electrolytes, like salt, during exercise. Because of the added flavor, you are more likely to consume more. These drinks are preferred over water during long distance or intense training or competition.

Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the preferred source of fuel for the body. They are found in fruits, vegetables, starches, and other foods. The body converts carbohydrates into glucose for immediate energy or stores it in the liver and muscle tissues as glycogen. Muscle glycogen is used during endurance sports. As glycogen is depleted, an individual may become fatigued and unable to maintain training and racing intensity. With high intensity training, 60-70% of calories should come from carbohydrates. Remember: while we usually encourage high fiber and whole grains, opt for low fiber foods (i.e. white pasta, potatoes, etc.) when training to avoid gastric distress and cramping.

* Stock up before*: Eat carbohydrates for at least several days before competing so that you start with glycogen loaded muscles.

* Be consistent during: If training or competing for more than an hour, eat carbohydrates during the activity to replenish energy and delay fatigue. Consider energy gel supplementation. A typical gel has 90-100 calories composed mostly of carbohydrates. These are especially helpful during colder days when the sweat rate is lower, and you are not prone to drink as much. Gels, however, can upset your stomach, so try using them to gage your tolerance prior to the competition.

* Replenish: After a long run or an intense training session, your muscle glycogen stores will be depleted. Therefore, eat a carbohydrate snack of approximately 100-300 calories immediately after training. Snacks may include pretzels, baked chips, or frozen fruit pops.

*A note on carbohydrate (carbo) loading: Carbo-loading is a method some athletes use to maximize glycogen stores. The original method began 1 week prior to the event. For the first 3 days, athletes ate a very low carbohydrate diet (about 10% of total calories) and exercised intensely to deplete glycogen stores. The following 3 days the athlete ate a very high carbohydrate diet (about 90% of total calories) and reduced exercise intensity to maximize glycogen stores. Over the years this technique has been modified and the depletion phase has basically been eliminated. Now athletes usually just increase carbohydrate intake for the 3 days prior to the event (about 70% of calories) and decrease exercise intensity. Consult a physician before attempting a carbo-loading diet.

Protein
Protein is needed for muscle and tissue growth and repair. However, too much protein can cause dehydration and muscle heaviness. When muscle glycogen stores are high, protein contributes less than 5% of the energy needed by the body. When glycogen stores are low, protein must be used for energy and may contribute as much as 10% of the energy needed. This process of using protein for energy is expensive and inefficient, and should be avoided as much as possible.

* Increased Needs: Endurance athletes need up to 50% more protein than sedentary adults.

* Avoid Excess: Consume no more than 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. A high protein diet, especially after heavy training will cause incomplete replenishment of muscle glycogen and impair performance.

Fats
Fats are required in small amounts by the body for certain critical functions and as an alternative energy source to glucose. Eating too much fat, however, is associated with heart disease, some cancers, and other major problems. A high fat intake probably means you aren’t getting enough carbohydrates. Moreover, a high fat diet is difficult to digest and may cause sluggishness.

* Aim for Moderation: All individuals, including athletes, should consume less than 30% of total calories from fat and less than 10% of calories from saturated fat.

While these basic guidelines will help, we do recommend seeking personalized advice when it comes to intense training. Every body is different, and it is important to make sure you are adequately nourished and hydrated during training and during the event.

Six Surefire Ways to De-Stress

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Alleviate stress this holiday season with these simple stress busters. You’ll feel better and eat less.

  1. Get moving. Aerobic exercise is probably the best way to beat stress. The stress response is actually your body’s primitive way of dealing with stressors. Way back when most stressors were physical—attacks by animals, fire, the elements—and so your body would produce extra adrenaline and cortisol so you could run or fight off those stressors. Nowadays, most stressors are mental; yet your body still reacts the same way. Only now it can’t burn off those stress hormones, and when those hormones sit in your body, they can cause fat to accumulate. By hitting the gym, you can burn that stress response right off. Just 20 minutes on the Stairmaster or a running machine can make all the difference.
  2. Stretch out your stress. Yoga is a great way to alleviate symptoms of stress. A recent study done in Thailand found that people with hypertension—a stress-related condition—were actually able to lower their blood pressure by practicing yoga regularly.
  3. Get a rub down! Massage is also an excellent way to relieve stress—so much so that many hospitals offer it as a complementary therapy. According to a survey conducted by the American Hospital Association and the American Massage Therapy Association, 74 percent of hospitals that offer massage to patients do so for stress management.
  4. Breathe easy. Simply focusing on your breathing can be a great, take-anywhere stress reliever. Next time you feel your blood pressure rising, try this technique: Sit up straight and either close your eyes or gaze at something in front of you. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, allowing your stomach to expand. Then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat until your breaths become even and you begin to feel more relaxed.
  5. Meditate tension away. Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated or new agey to alleviate stress. Taking just 10 minutes out to meditate during the day can relax, refocus, and rejuvenate you. For quick meditations you can do just about anywhere, visit www.learningmeditation.com.
  6. Enjoy your food. Worrying about what you can and cannot eat is one way to add stress to your life around the holidays. I always want my clients to feel like they’re eating in the real world. True, to reduce weight you need to cut back on certain foods. But you shouldn’t feel like you can’t eat at restaurants, parties, and holiday festivities. That means you do get to eat when you’re out, and you don’t have to turn down every sweet offered to you. The key is to exercise a little good old-fashioned moderation. Look at the holidays and all the celebrations as a part of your healthy eating lifestyle, rather than as an excuse to indulge. Yes, you can have a slice of cake at your office holiday get-together, but have a slim one and skip your snack. Have an extra glass of wine, but count that as your dessert. And be sure to enjoy what you’re eating. Take the time to do that, and you’ll find you have less desire, and time, to go back for more food, and you’ll find holiday eating a whole lot less stressful.

Daylight Savings Workout Tips

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During winter it’s easy to blow off the gym when it gets dark at 4:30. By the time you leave from work it feels like nighttime. And on cold, dark winter mornings it’s tough to motivate to work out before work. Well, there’s nothing like a little extra sunshine to give you that energy boost to kick-start your exercise routine. A recent Dutch study published in Obesity Research documented that energy boost, reporting that the physical activity level of adults goes up in summer compared to activity levels in winter months.

Even if you have been working out faithfully all winter, now’s your chance to both increase your activity level and spice up your exercise routine to keep yourself from getting bored. In fact, people who vary their exercise routines tend to stick to a fitness regimen more successfully than people who always follow the same routine, according to a study published in the March 2005 issue of Medical Science Monitor. Here are a few tips on how to add a little variety to your workout routine now that the days are a little longer:

  • Stick to your quitting time. If you usually leave work around 5 or 5:30, try to stick to that plan even now that it’s light out until 7. Don’t simply stretch your workday out. Use that daylight to squeeze in a workout.
  • Walk your commute. If it’s an option, skip one workout at the gym a week and walk home from work during the newfound daylight instead.
  • Be flexible. If you typically workout on the weekend and you find that your summer social calendar is interfering with your weekend workouts, take advantage of the longer weeknights to get all your exercise in before the weekend.
  • Become a weekend warrior. Conversely, if you find it too difficult to fit your workouts into the workweek, or if you just hate going to the gym, use the longer weekend days for active outdoor activities with friends and family. Plan a day of biking, rollerblading, or hiking. It’s a great way to be social and get fit.
  • Let your internal clock play catch-up. Beware that it might have taken you a few days to adjust your internal body clock to Daylight Saving Time. You may have felt hungry earlier in the day than you usually do. Hopefully, you were able to resist the temptation to double up on your snacks and meals until your body adjusted. If you found that you did wind up eating more that week, try to wean yourself off the extra snacks as soon as possible.

How Many Eggs a Day are OK?

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Eggs have always been under scrutiny because while they offer 6 grams of complete protein and have many essential vitamins and minerals they also contain 213 mg of cholesterol (the RDA of cholesterol is no more than 300 mg/day) – check out the nutrition label below.

My recommendation: a maximum of 3-4 whole eggs per week. As an alternative to whole eggs, consider using just egg whites or “Egg Beaters”. You can also try combining egg whites and whole eggs (i.e. when making an omelet use two egg whites and one whole egg).

Nutrition Content of Egg
Serving Size: One Large Egg

Whole Egg Egg White Egg Yolk
Calories 76 17 59
Protein 6.3 3.52 2.78
Fat 5 0 5
Saturated Fat 1.55 0 1.55
Monosaturated Fat 1.91 0 1.91
Cholestorol 213 0 213
Carbohydrates 0.6 0.3 0.3

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