Saturday, March 29, 2014

Habit 4: For Fat Loss, Eat a Majority of Other Carbohydrates After Exercise

Pastas, such as orecchiette with ricotta and drizzled in a chard pan sauce (pictured below), are mouth watering and delicious entrees. Almost as delectable are the warm, delicious breads that accompany these dishes, and that we partake of at many restaurants, or at home when we dine in.
Courtesy Better Homes and Gardens

Such gastronomic adventures come with a price--an expanded waistline and flabby arms that serve as a not so subtle reminder that perhaps we should have made different food selections and/or pushed away from the table a lot sooner, on more than one occasion.

Still, many of us shudder to imagine--and refuse to live in a world--without our favorite foods, even if they aren't so good for us. After all, what's the point of being in great shape if we are going to be miserable and subsisting on cardboardesque rice cakes and the like?

Life is about balance, and the same is true of nutrition strategies. Instead of eliminating our favorite foods, we can use Habit 4 to stay on track and stay sane as we strive to accomplish our fitness and weight loss goals. For weight loss, eat a majority of other carbohydrates after exercise.

"After your training session(workout), it is critical to eat carbs because it starts the whole recovery/muscle growth process,"says Equinox Tier 3+ Personal Trainer CJ Blackman. "Following a hard workout, your body is severely depleted of glycogen and glucose but this is mainly dependent on the intensity of the training session and whether it was mainly aerobic(such as jogging) or anaerobic(such as lifting weights). Your levels of glucose/glycogen will be depleted none the less."

The benefit of this strategy, according to Blackman, "...is that it allows you to eat a relatively large amount of carbs without contributing to weight gain since your body needs to turn all these carbs into fuel for your future training sessions." See, you can have your proverbial cake and eat it too.

However, Blackman does urge caution regarding post workout food selections. He highlights common foods that are to be avoided, such as Gatorade, Muscle-milk, NO-XPLODE, C4. Blackman explains his opposition to these, "I would caution against these drinks because they contain very large amounts of sugar, preservatives, and excitotoxins."

Instead, Blackman recommends healthier options such as fruit, with a source of protein such yogurt or whey protein. Fruits and nuts can also be a great combination if you are a vegetarian or vegan.

The bottom line is that when you are looking to lose fat/weight, save these other carbs for after the workout. You will have earned it, and it will taste that much better.

This is part four of a five part series on The 5 Habits of Good Nutrition. Stay tuned for the rest of the series. 

Special thanks to Carlton Blackman, a Tier 3+ personal trainer at Equinox for taking time out of your busy schedule to provide us with tremendous insight and invaluable strategies to lose fat without sacrificing all of our favorite foods.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Habit 3 : Eat Vegetables with Every Meal

Courtesy: Social Moms
From as far back as I can remember, my mother and grandmothers gently, and sometimes not so gently, reminded me of the importance of eating vegetables. They claimed that vegetables would make and keep me healthy, and that I would grow up to be big and strong--if I ate them.

The underlying assumption was that if I didn't, then I would be forever scrawny and weak. This fear compelled me, and countless other unsuspecting children I presume, to eat more than our fair share of vegetables, often opting for a second helping. To this day my favorite food is Brussels sprouts. 

What our mothers and grandmothers have always known, science is now able to prove. There is now a great deal of empirical data about the importance of vegetables [and fruits]. They are essential for optimal physiological  functioning, and they help provide an alkaline load to the blood.

Conversely, proteins and grains provide an acid load to our blood. Their over consumption can have detrimental outcomes, such as losses of bone strength and muscle mass.

Coach Ron McKeefery
Coach Ron McKeefery, a strength and conditioning coach of the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals explains this significance further.

"Over the long haul, those who do not balance their diet with alkaline foods (vegetables and fruits, primarily) become prone to weak bones, joints and muscles, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and a host of other health problems. In other words, long-term health and longevity have everything to do with acid-alkaline balance. "

Therefore, without this alkalinity, the loss of bone strength can lead to brittle and broken bones. The accompanying loss of muscle mass slows down one's metabolism, and makes it more difficult to lose fat. Additionally, some studies suggest that cancer rates are higher if our diets are too acidic.

Now that we can all acknowledge the importance of eating vegetables, we just need to know how much to eat.

"The amount of vegetables you need to eat depends on your age, sex, and level of physical activity," says McKeefery. "Generally, adult men and women should eat 2-3 cups of vegetables per day.  As a rule of thumb, half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables."

McKeefery says the breakdown of vegetables should look something like this:

Assuming 17.5 cups per week (2 1/2 cups per day)
 - 1 1/2 cups per week of dark green vegetables - bok choy, broccoli, collard greens, kale, spinach, etc.
 - 5 1/2 cups per week orange/red vegetables - acorn squash, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, red peppers, etc.
 - 1 1/2 dry peas and beans (legumes) - black beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, split peas, tofu, etc.
 - 5 cups per week starchy vegetables - green peas, corn, potatoes, water chestnuts, etc.
 - 4 cups per week other vegetables - green beans, artichokes, asparagus, beets, onions, egg plant, celery, cabbage, etc.

Develop this habit and help feel, perform, and look your best and stay healthy and disease free.

This is part three of a five part series on The 5 Habits of Good Nutrition. Stay tuned for the rest of the series. 

Special thanks to Coach Ron McKeefery, Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Cincinnati Bengals (NFL) for taking time out of your busy schedule to provide us with tremendous insight and invaluable information about sports nutrition and the significance of eating vegetables.