Dining Out

Do you find it stressful going out to eat while trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle of eating?  If you answered “yes” you are not alone.  Food and eating have become more than just a way to stay alive. We center food on celebrations, family gatherings and use it as a way of sharing our traditions. However, changing your eating habits seems for most people to be more difficult when you are forced into social situations.   Sometimes the pressure is too much!

Whether you realize it or not, you are exposed to the social pressures of eating quite often. When
eating out, staying on track with a healthy eating plan might be more challenging. Restaurants know exactly how much sugar; fat and salt (the evil trinity) to add to their dishes to have us love it, finish it all and come back for more. We all crave the evil trinity, so the more control you have over the food and the better you prepare the better off you’ll be.

1. Drink plenty of water – during and before any social occasion which most likely will
serve food. It will fill you up, as well as help you to stay focused on your plan. Water is
also great for your metabolism!

2. Plan ahead – If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. If you know your schedule for the day includes a meal out, try to eat a little less starch (rice, pasta, potato and bread) during the day. This will save you a few calories to spend on that meal. However, DO NOT fast the whole day in preparation of the event, since your hunger will only become your worst enemy.

3. Order at home – not literally. Get the name of the restaurant and find their menu on line. You can look it over and know exactly what you will be ordering before you ever walk in. This prevents impulse ordering or joining in on whatever anyone else is doing.

4. Pre-eat – eat right before you go to the restaurant or event. If you arrive hungry…you will eat everything and eat it all way too quickly. An example: you will eat all the bread, order an appetizer, main dish and dessert. This is not the optimal plan so get something in your stomach to prevent this from happening to you.

A Tip: bring a whey based (not soy) protein bar on your way to go eat. This will “prime the pump”, by that I mean you will avoid excess hunger because you have just eaten. “You only have will power when you are full”.

5. Take it slow – use this social situation to talk and make conversation before putting your hand in that bread basket! Remember, it takes about 20 minutes for the stretch receptors in your stomach to stretch and send a chemical signal to your brain to let you know that your stomach is full. Everyone has at one point or another, eaten to pain. This usually means you were eating way too fast (usually due to excessive hunger).

Tip: eat with your non-dominant hand
Tip: “don’t pre load the fork”. So while you are chewing…don’t stab the food and ready your fork.
These will surely slow you down and help you eat less and feel better after the meal.

6. Special Order (even if it’s just a little) – sometimes we don’t want to draw too much attention to ourselves while ordering, but it can help in big ways.

  • Order sauces and dressing on the side to help save lots of calories
  • Nothing fried or sautéed (fancy word for frying). Vegetables should be steamed or grilled. (this alone can save over a hundred calories in oil)

7. Take a good look before you make a decision at a buffet. When eating from a buffet, take some time to weigh all your options before you fill your plate, then select foods that fit your meal plan. Try a little first, and only eat what you like. Don’t just eat it because it is on your plate.

8. Add some Fiber. Selecting foods high in fiber such as vegetables, whole grains and fruits with skin will make you feel fuller faster.  You’ll have less room for tempting foods later.

9. Portions – not only at a restaurant but at an event such as a wedding or dinner parties too, “When the ‘what’ is not up to you the ‘how much’ always is.”

Most of us know portion control is critical but the food tastes too good while it sits in front of you for too long. This is a sure fire recipe for overeating. If this is the case, then really pay attention to portion control. Most restaurants serve too much food, so do not feel a need to finish everything. If you leave enough over, you won’t have to plan dinner for the following night!

A tip: ask them bring only half the meal and wrap the other half up and take it to go…now there’s no chance of eating it all.

Remember eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures and dining out helps make it even better…don’t let it become something to dread. Use these tips and have fun.

Are you getting your edge?

There is a big gap between survival and optimization of the human body. Most athletes hydrate only

when they are thirsty, and they couldn’t be more wrong!

The human body is predominantly water – to be specific, 50% – 65% water and muscles need to be fully hydrated to perform at their peak. Thirst hits when there is a 2% – 3% loss in body water (dehydration), unfortunately, mental performance; concentration; physical hand-eye coordination; and strength all become impaired much earlier at around 1% dehydration.

Improve your chances of victory by hydrating often, while your opponent waits until thirst triggers them to drink. Athletes I work with do a pretty good job of hydrating prior to the event / game but often ‘drop-the-ball’, and forget to optimally hydrate during. Most just take a sip or two to wet their whistle, but a lot more than that is needed for top performance. On average, athletes should drink 8oz of water every 15 minutes (with adjustments for age, gender, activity type, and venue temperature).

There is a big gap between survival and optimization of the human body. Most athletes hydrate only

when they are thirsty, and they couldn’t be more wrong!

The human body is predominantly water – to be specific, 50% – 65% water and muscles need to be fully hydrated to perform at their peak. Thirst hits when there is a 2% – 3% loss in body water (dehydration), unfortunately, mental performance; concentration; physical hand-eye coordination; and strength all become impaired much earlier at around 1% dehydration.

Improve your chances of victory by hydrating often, while your opponent waits until thirst triggers them to drink. Athletes I work with do a pretty good job of hydrating prior to the event / game but often ‘drop-the-ball’, and forget to optimally hydrate during. Most just take a sip or two to wet their whistle, but a lot more than that is needed for top performance. On average, athletes should drink 8oz of water every 15 minutes (with adjustments for age, gender, activity type, and venue temperature).

Always remember to increase the frequency of hydration intake and build up the amount drunk at each interval during your practices, the same way you increase repetitions to build strength and speed.

Always remember to increase the frequency of hydration intake and build up the amount drunk at each interval during your practices, the same way you increase repetitions to build strength and speed.

Soda and Athletes

Soda is not hydration – its liquid sugar calories; and as a professional athlete you want to eat your calories, not drink them! (An exception would be a protein shake)

Many athletes think of soda as a liquid, but it is actually like icing on a cake, all sugar! Even diet soda, although calorie-free, has its own issues. Artificial sweeteners cause false signals to be sent to the body causing “metabolic confusion” which may lead to increased insulin secretion and fat storage. Moreover, some artificial sweeteners can interfere with sleep, effect mood, and may even lead to depression.

If that were not reason enough against soda, due its acidic nature (carbonic acid), soda may weaken bones thus increasing the risk of a fracture. Because the body must maintain equilibrium, it needs an alkaline to neutralize the extra acidity of soda. If the diet is not calcium rich enough to provide it, the body will tap into the calcium from the bones, weakening them over time.

The acidity in soda acts as an inflammatory to the body and may prevent optimal recovery. This can also lead to joint pain.

Remember that we breathe out carbon dioxide, as it’s a waste product of the human body. With soda and other carbonated drinks you are ingesting large amounts of this waste product.

Plain and simple, for proper hydration and optimal performance athletes needs to drink water! A lot of water. Probably more water than they are used to, especially during games and practices.

For those who don’t like the taste of water, just drink it! Not everything needs to taste sweet and like weight training or a good night’s sleep; it is a critical component of sports performance.

Hydration

With the sun beating down, a vital thing we need to focus on is…Hydration! Water makes up approximately 60% of adult body weight, and it is considered an essential nutrient because it must be obtained from sources outside the body. It is necessary for reactions in the body that involve nutrient digestion, absorption, transport, and metabolism.

Though it may be a surprise to many, water aids in decreasing fat and weight. First, water naturally acts as an appetite suppressant since fluid helps create a sense of satiety. In addition, water helps metabolize stored fat. This is because the kidneys cannot function without enough water. As a result, if you are deficient in water, the liver has to take over some of the functions of the kidney. Lack of water then makes the liver less efficient at its job, which is to metabolize stored fat into usable energy for the body. Finally, ensuring sufficient water intake is the best cure for fluid retention and for decreasing water weight. When you are deficient in water, your body perceives this as a threat to the body and will store as much water as possible. If, however, you drink enough water, your body will readily give up the stored fluid. This will help the athlete become faster as there is less “dead” or unproductive weight to accelerate and decelerate.

For most people, water is not consumed in sufficient amounts since thirst does not develop until body fluids are already depleted. At the same time, consumption of 2.5 to 3 liters (approximately 10-12 cups) daily is recommended to maintain optimal hydration. This amount is increased if your activity level increases, if outside temperature increases, or if you are overweight. Though your water requirements will be most effectively met by consumption of plain water or beverages which are 90% water by volume (i.e. low or non-fat milk, decaffeinated tea, low sodium soups and Powerade), water may also be obtained from solid foods that have a high water content, such as fruits and vegetables.

If you currently are not drinking enough water, start increasing your intake slowly. Adding a cup or two a day will help your bladder to adapt to the increased fluid load. Also, keep in mind that caffeinated beverages actually dehydrate you in the short term. For every cup of coffee or tea, you will actually need to add another glass of water.

Bullet Points:

  • Drink 3 liters or about 1 gal per day
  • More if it’s hot outside
  • More if you are overweight
  • Drink PowerAde – During and after practice, lifts or games
  • If you are thirsty then you are already getting dehydrated and Sports Performance will suffer.

Title: Soda and Athletes 

What Every Professional Athlete Should Know about Alcohol

Alcohol has many ill effects and they are even more detrimental for the professional athlete.

Here are a few studies to show this:

DIET:

A February 1999 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that, compared with juice or water, having one alcoholic drink before a meal led to eating 200 extra calories, on top of the extra calories in the drink itself. Subjects ate faster, took longer to feel full, and continued eating even after they were no longer hungry. {‘Drink Less, Eat Less,’ Prevention magazine, Jan. 2001}

Alcohol is high in calories and devoid of nutrients, so it can contribute to a weight problem. Besides the issue of calories, alcohol consumption can make you overeat, since it anesthetizes your taste buds, makes your food less satisfying and can make you eat more than you would if you hadn’t imbibed.

{“Preventing Heart Disease,” The New Pritikin Program, 1998}

Barbara Rolls, a nutrition professor at Penn State University and co-author of “Volumetrics” (HarperCollins, 2000) warns that having an alcoholic drink may also loosen your diet inhibitions. She says that once you get that first glass of wine, you may get to the “what the hell?” effect in which you would eat more than you otherwise would. Beverages provide psychological stimulation that leads to physiological stimulation which primes the body to salivate and anticipate food, says Richard Mattes, a professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. {“Watch What You Drink,” thirdage.com – Aug. 2002}

The Bullet Points:

  • You will eat more and eat faster
  • It is high calories and does not provide your body with anything an athlete needs

SLEEP:

Even in small doses, alcohol can cause early sedation or sleepiness, awaking during the night, and suppression of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep is the dreaming stage of sleep, however, when REM sleep occurs near wakefulness, it can cause hallucinations. {“Alcohol Effects on the Brain,” Alcohol Research Center, LSUHSC – Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, August 2002} Fatigue due to alcohol consumption is common. A nightcap may get you to sleep, but drinking

late at night produces troubled, fragmented sleep. {Excedrin Headache Relief Update, 1996}

The Bullet Points:

  • You will not get restful sleep….you will wake up more often and not get into the deep levels of sleep. These deep levels are critical for grow, repair and recovery.
  • You will fatigue faster

METABOLISM:

Dean Ornish, the famous diet doctor, suggests eliminating alcohol because it suppresses the body’s ability to burn fat. This fact is also in the New England Journal of Medicine, Apr. 1992. They point out that the alcohol can slow your fat metabolism by about 30%, or in other words, while your body is burning alcohol, it’s not burning fat.

Alcohol slows down the breakdown of fat. Fat is burned in our liver, but when we drink alcohol, the alcohol burns instead of fat, cautions Charles Lieber, MD, Director of Alcohol Research, Bronx Veterans Administration Center. {“Anatomy of a Pigout,” marieclaire.women.com – Oct. 2001}

Metabolism is the energy our body uses while at rest. The BMR (basil metabolic rate) is the rate at which calories are expended for basic activities such as keeping the heart beating, lungs breathing, etc. People who are more muscular, with a lower percentage of body fat have a higher metabolism. One of the recommendations to increase BMR and keep it elevated is to avoid alcohol, which can depress your metabolism and stimulate your appetite. {“Metabolism,” Fitness, laurushealth.com – May 2001}

Typically when glucose levels drop, the liver converts stored carbohydrate into glucose. But when alcohol is consumed, the liver acts to clear it from the blood instead. The onset of hypoglycemia, or low blood-glucose levels, can occur very quickly.

Abdominal fat, a contributor to heart disease risk, is related to alcohol drinking patterns, says a study published in the August 2003 issue of the Journal of Nutrition. Within all categories of drinking frequency, the number of drinks mattered – the more drinks per drinking day, the higher the abdominal measurement.

The Bullet Points:

  • What Every Professional Athlete Should Know about Alcohol It suppresses your ability to burn fat
  • The more you drink, the fatter you get and the slower your metabolic rate will become

Balancing Meals: Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats

Balancing Meals: Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats

Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats, also known as macronutrients, all play a role in the growth, development of muscle and in the loss of fat. There are many diets out there that may recommend avoiding one of these macronutrients. However, it is the combination of protein, fats, and carbohydrates that enables your metabolism and your body to work properly.

It’s like paper, sticks and logs in a fire, all three are needed to make it burn bright. You need carbs, proteins and fats for optimal energy output.

Protein

Protein is necessary for almost every function performed by the cells, and aside from water, it is the most plentiful substance in the body. We do not store protein the way we do Carbs and fat, so you need to have it at every meal. Proteins help give structure to the cells and are important for the growth and development of all body tissues. Proteins are also used to make hormones, enzymes and antibodies. Nutritionally, protein can also serve as an energy source and yields four calories per gram. Having protein at every meal and snack helps to give you a feeling of satisfaction and allow you to repair and grow your muscles, as well as, feel full until the following meal or snack.

Protein is composed of amino acids, which are the building blocks for the proteins. The human body needs about 20 amino acids in specific sequences to make various body tissues. Of these 20 amino acids, about half cannot be made by the human body and must be supplied by the diet. The amino acids that are not made in the body are called essential amino acids. Some proteins, such as those from animal sources are considered complete and provide all 20 of the amino acids. Other proteins, such as those found in grains are considered incomplete because they do not contain an adequate amount of one or more of the essential amino acids. Of the incomplete proteins, some can be complimentary and provide all of the essential amino acids in a meal when eaten together. One such example is rice and beans.

If the body is deficient in protein, symptoms such as fatigue, insulin resistance, hair loss, muscle

loss, low body temperature, and hormonal irregularities may occur.                    

Fats

Fat is a necessary dietary component that provides flavor and aroma to food. Fats prolong

digestion, which creates a longer lasting sensation of fullness. Fats also play a vital role in

maintaining healthy skin and nails, insulating body organs from shock, maintaining body

temperature, and promoting healthy cell function. Fats act as carriers for fat soluble vitamins,

which include vitamins A, D, E, and K.

There are two types of fats: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats, such as animal fats (i.e. the white fat around and through a steak), coconut oil, and palm oil, are usually solid at room temperature. Diets high in saturated fats may lead to increased incidence of coronary heart disease. Unsaturated fats, which usually are from vegetable sources, are primarily liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats can be monounsaturated such as those found in olive oil or canola oil, or they can be polyunsaturated, such as those found in walnuts and safflower oil. Polyunsaturated fats have been found to lower total cholesterol, including HDL, the “good cholesterol”. Monounsaturated fats have been found to lower total cholesterol, but have also been found to increase the HDL.

Fats serve as energy stores for the body, and the fatty acids are a great source of energy for many tissues, especially heart and skeletal muscle. Each gram of fat yields 9 calories, providing more than two times the amount of energy than either protein or carbohydrates.

Fats provide us with certain essential fatty acids. If someone is deficient in fats, he/she can

develop a dry scaly rash, increased susceptibility to infection, and/or poor wound healing.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the body’s primary fuel source for most functions, and each gram of carbohydrate yields four calories. Carbohydrates supply the body with the energy needed for the muscles, brain and central nervous system. As a result, carbohydrates provide the bulk of calories in the diet. Daily intake should be at least 50% of total caloric intake. By providing the body with enough carbohydrates, you are sparing protein for muscle building. Moreover, carbohydrates help to maintain satiety by keeping glycogen (the stored form of carbohydrates) stores full and by adding bulk to the diet.

There are 3 types of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates (i.e. sugar), complex carbohydrates (i.e. starch), and indigestible carbohydrates (i.e. fiber). Simple carbohydrates are broken down very quickly. These carbohydrates are said to cause an extreme rise in blood sugar which in term, increases the release of insulin, which can elevate appetite and fat storage. Complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly, and have been shown to cause a moderate rise in blood sugar since it enters the bloodstream more gradually than simple carbohydrates. Therefore, insulin is released more moderately and stabilizes appetite and fat storage. Finally, fiber is a carbohydrate that cannot be digested, and is therefore not absorbed by the body. Fiber, however, does have many health benefits, including decreasing cholesterol, slowing sugar absorption, adding bulk to the diet to aid in satiety, and changing the rate of digestion.

Conclusion

Each macronutrient has its own role in maintaining and energizing the body. No one macronutrient can undertake all of the body’s roles, nor is any single macronutrient responsible for weight gain. By combining carbohydrates, fats, and protein at each meal and snack, you are enabling your body and your metabolism to work most efficiently.

A dozen ways to get back to your New Year’s resolutions

  1. Don’t beat yourself up about things. Nothing you do today will make you 600lbs…so it’s not
    what you do today…it’s about what you keep doing.
  2. Drink more water. Don’t drink anything with calories or bubbles. Bubbles because they are acidic and that can cause / exacerbate joint pain and may leach calcium out of your bones to maintain the body’s equilibrium.
  3. Sleep a little more. Critical for Hormonal regulation and repair. If you don’t sleep enough…you will be hungrier and be unable to repair you Lean Body Mass (LBM = muscle).
  4. Limit your alcohol…it goes directly to fat storage. Only drink tropical drinks (Pina Coladas, etc) if you hear live steel drums…they have plenty of alcohol and sugar calories.
  5. Plan ahead….what and when you will eat. The worst situation to be in is: “I am starving…what should I eat”. This means you waited too long to eat and now you will crave foods, and that means poor choices. “ You only have will power when you are full.”
  6. Try and to cut out high calorie (expensive) foods. You must “caloric-ally cheapen” your meals. That means grilling instead of frying or no cheese, less oil, etc.
  7. Eat more times. Eating 3x per day is for prison and not optimization. Eat 6 times per day to keep blood sugar and energy levels steady. The goal is Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dunch, Dinner and supper.
  8. Be careful about stimulants (example is caffeine)…they are appetite suppressants and not appetite eliminators. This means that you don’t feel your hunger but it is still there…growing in the background. So later on…it’s super powerful and you find yourself over eating.
  9. Control your stress. Get a massage or go meditate, or at least do something that makes you happy. Stress is bad for the body and it can cause the release of cortisol (a hormone) which is catabolic or breaks down muscle. This is bad, as muscle is metabolically active and is tied into your metabolism. The less muscle you have the lower your strength and endurance will be. Not to mention the worse you look.
  10. Don’t bother with a cleanse…you’re not that dirty. They are costly and you have organs (liver
    and kidneys) that function as the body’s cleaners / filters…and they do a great job. Cleanses are
    usually very low in protein or have none at all, which is sub-optimal for your lean body mass
    (muscle).
  11. Remember the “Egg Theory”. If on the way home from the grocery store you break one egg in
    the dozen you just bought…you don’t throw out the whole dozen eggs…just the one broken egg.
    Every meal is its own egg and you will break one (mess up / go off your plan) from time to
    time….do not throw out the whole day or week. Just get back on your plan because overeating
    food doesn’t change your body in one day.
  12. There is no “perfect meal plan”…if you shoot for something that is not real…you will always miss
    and fail. Just do a little better today than yesterday and you will be in great shape. Pun intended

What to buy for Halloween

There are hundreds of articles on how bad candy is, and we all know that, but how about one that will help you make “better bad food choices.”

When planning on stocking up for all the Trick or Treaters; here the things you must do:

Be Selfish

The rule is to never buy your favorite candies. If you are a chocolate person then look for a gummy one to give out. You will be much less likely to eat things you don’t love.

Choose wisely

Pick the candy that is “healthier” but not full a blown health food. Your “delicious” homemade acai
berry/quinoa candies will be all over your lawn in the AM.

Some better choices are (organic, for less pesticides and chemicals):

  1. Gummies that are naturally sweetened and colored, that don’t have all the dyes in them.
  2. Fair trade chocolate…not too dark or the kids won’t like it.
  3. Naturally sweetened and colored lollipops
    ·

Put a Limit on it

Do not buy enough candy to feed a small country. Going to Costco and Sams Club is fine for toilet paper but not for bulk candy. People pretend it’s to save money but it’s really to have leftovers.

Donate it

When Nov 1 st comes around donate the candy to a homeless shelter along with some healthy foods you have in your kitchen. Now you can’t eat the candy and you’ve helped people who are in need. A Win/Win situation.