Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why do we need to eat fat?

Despite its bad reputation, fat is an essential nutrient. Fat is important for body insulation, internal organ protection, nerve transmission, hormone production and metabolizing fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E, and K). Additionally, fat is the main source of energy at rest and during low-intensity exercise (e.g., walking, light jogging/cycling). When consumed with a meal, fat also helps contribute to the feelings of satiety, helping you feel full longer. Fat is the most energy dense nutrient at 9 calories per gram, or more than twice the amount of calories per gram compared to carbohydrates or protein. While a high-fat diet can be detrimental to health, a diet too low in fat can also cause health problems. As a general guideline, 20-35% of daily caloric intake should come from fat. Individuals who are overweight or obese should consume no more than 30% of daily calories from fat.

Recipe - Mexican Baked Chicken with Pinto Beans

This recipe has only three ingredients - can't beat that!

2 16-ounce cans pinto beans
4 pieces chicken, skinless
1 cup salsa

1. Drain the beans and put in the bottom of a baking dish.
2. Put the skinless chicken on top; pour salsa over beans and chicken.
3. Cover and bake in a 350 degree F oven for 25 to 30 minuties. If desired, bake uncovered the last 10 minutes to thicken the pan juices.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Information: 340 calories per serving; 31 g carbohydrates; 45 g protein; 4 g fat

Recipe courtesy of Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD from her book "Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, Fourth Edition."

How much protein do I need?

The protein needs for athletes are slightly increased compared to the general population. Even the type of sport may impact the daily protein requirement. Most diets meet protein needs without much effort, but being aware of how protein plays into the athlete’s diet will help you reach your performance goals.

One egg contains about 7 grams of protein and 80 calories.
Protein plays a vital role in building and repairing muscle tissue. It is not a major source of energy for sport, like carbohydrate and fat. Adequate daily caloric intake, with the majority of calories provided by carbohydrate and fat and a moderate fat intake, has a protein sparing effect; this allows protein to be used more effectively for muscle growth and repair. Healthy protein sources include leans meats, fat-free/low-fat dairy products, nuts, and legumes.

Endurance athletes should consume between 0.55-0.64g per pound of body weight; while strength athletes’ needs are closer to 0.73-0.77g per pound of body weight. Consuming both protein and carbohydrate within the first 30 minutes after training is crucial for maximizing muscle recovery and repair, improving recovery time, replenishing energy stores, and potentially decreasing muscle soreness.

Adequate protein intake is also an important factor in achieving a healthy weight loss. Sufficient protein intake preserves lean mass, ensuring that your body uses carbohydrate and stored fat for energy rather than breaking down muscle tissue.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Meatless Monday: Breakfast Scramble

Although there has been some controversy over Meatless Monday's recently, I am still in support! This morning for breakfast I made a veggie scramble with tofu, it almost even looks like scrambeled eggs! Here is the recipe so you can try it:

2 small tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup pinto beans
4 oz tofu, blended (add 2 tbsp water)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
sprinkle of sea salt

1. Saute veggies, until tender in skillet.
2. Add tofu, beans and spices. Cook until warmed through.

For more information on the Meatless Monday initiative, click here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

More Veggies and Fruit

While most people would agree on the fact that fruit and vegetables are healthy, the amount that most people eat still falls short of the daily recommended goals. In fact most people consume less than half of the recommended 4 1/2 cups of fruits and/or veggies per day. Check out these ways to increase the fruit and vegetables in your eating routine:

- Start your day with a multi-grain pita, topped with hummus and cucumber slices (check out my recent Facebook post for a photo of this!)

- If you are on the go, look for fruit and vegetable snacking options like Starbucks Bistro Boxes that have goat cheese (pictured right) and garden vegetables or fruit and cheese.

- Add vegetables to scrambled tofu or eggs like zucchini, red bell peppers and onions! To scramble tofu: blend 1/4 cup tofu with 1 tablespoon of water, it cooks up and looks very similar to egg whites!

- Keep a bowl of sliced fruit or fruit salad at eye level in your refrigerator! Have this as a snack or as a side dish at meals. Pictured right is a blend of the fruit salad in our refrigerator at the moment.

- Be adventurous, try an new fruits or vegetables like: purple carrots, parsnips, beets, dragon fruit OR new ways to prepare vegetables them like: mashed cauliflower, roasted red peppers, or grilled peaches.

- For a snack have dried fruit and nuts! Just 1/4 cup of dried fruit is equal to a 1/2 cup of fresh fruit and is a great option for increasing fruit intake.

Click here to watch my recent segment on locally grown fruits and vegetables!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What You Should Know About Carbohydrates

Before practice or competition - Consider your muscles your “gas tank” and carbohydrate their “fuel.” It is important to begin any training session properly fueled. Your body needs both carbohydrate and fat for energy during low/moderate-intensity activities. As intensity increases or when training in the heat, your body will use progressively more carbohydrate for energy. Starting exercise adequately fueled before your practice can help maintain stamina and improve performance. If you have 3-4 hours before practice, consume a meal high in carbohydrate, some lean protein, and low in fat. With less time, try something small, lower in fat and fiber. Examples of excellent pre-practice/competition snacks are:

  • Instant oatmeal with fruit and milk
  • Apple with nuts or peanut butter

Choose whole grain products, when possible. The added fiber is important for digestive health.
During practice or competition - In general, when exercising for less than an hour, it is not necessary to take in additional carbohydrate. If you ate well before starting practice, your body will have adequate carbohydrate in the muscle tissue to sustain exercise. If your practice is longer than an hour or in the heat, consume about 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. Examples of carbohydrate to have while in practice or in competition are:
  • Sport drinks, contain about 14-15g per 8 fl oz
  • Gels, contain anywhere from 18-36g per packet
After practice or competition – Your body needs to refuel the muscle tissue with carbohydrate. Consuming a combination of carbohydrate and protein is ideal for aiding in muscle recovery and repair, improving recovery time, providing energy and potentially decreasing soreness. It is most effective to have your snack immediately after because your muscles are more sensitive for absorbing the nutrients. Great snack ideas for afterwards include:

  • Fresh fruit with yogurt
  • Low-fat chocolate milk
  • Half a bagel with peanut butter
  • String cheese and pretzels
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Deli sandwich

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Eating on the Road

A huge challenge for college athletes is the amount of time spent traveling.  It can be tricky for anyone to eat well away from home and a usual routine, but to be put in that situation and be expected to perform well is why knowing more about healthy eating is important for you and your team’s success.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways of knowing which foods are better than other is to become familiar with some culinary terms.  Foods that are prepared without adding any extra fat are the better choices.  Look for these words: baked, roasted, grilled, or poached.  When fat is added in the cooking process, it ends up making the final product higher in fat, too.  Avoid these words when ordering: fried, au gratin, or sautéed.  Sauces can easily add several calories to dishes and not all are created equal in regards to fat content.  If the pasta you are ordering has a cream sauce, it will be higher in fat than one that does not.  The same rule can be applied to soups. 

Be careful about ordering salads while on the road.  The word “salad” is often synonymous with healthy eating, but not all salads deserve such a high rating. Many salads found in popular restaurants are loaded with high fat ingredients that take away the nutritional value of what you thought you were getting.  Avoid salads with a lot of added cheese (a little is ok), bacon and other fried toppings, and ones that use an excessive amount of dressing.  The salad should still be a majority of vegetables.Choosing foods that have been processed the least will likely be the better option.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are almost always offered as a side instead of the usual French fries (or any other potato loaded with extra fat). I am not trying to be hard on potatoes, because they can have a place in a healthy diet as well.  Remember what I mentioned earlier; look for the word “baked” with potato rather than “French fried” or “au gratin.” 

I recommend packing a few snacks with you whenever you are on the road.  You never know where you will be stopping and what will be offered, so being prepared with some tried and true snacks that are healthy and you tolerate well is a good idea.  Snack ideas that would pack well include: fruit, crackers, bagels, energy bars, and nuts.

Staying well hydrated is another issue that could be overlooked while traveling.  Carry a bottle of water with you so you can always have it available to you. 

For many of you with smart phones, take advantage of the technology and look ahead at the nutrition facts.  Many popular restaurants list them right on their website.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nutrition Tips

An athlete’s diet, like everyone else’s, needs to contain a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.  The best way to proper nutrition for college athletes may come with some challenges, but with the right information I am certain that you can learn ways to make nutrition a key component to your training.  In this series of blog posts, I will answer many common questions regarding nutrition by college athletes.  Questions like:
  • How do I eat well on the road?
  • What can I do to make it easier to eat healthy when I am only cooking for one?
  • How does alcohol affect my training?
  • I am trying to stay on a budget.  What can I do to stretch my dollar at the grocery store?
  • Do I need to take supplements?
  • How many calories should I be eating?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Favorite Cereal & Giveaway!

We have a few staple cereals that are always in our house: corn puffs, oatmeal, shredded oat cereal and Puffins! I was thrilled when the maker of Puffins, Barbara's Bakery, contacted me to do a giveaway.

Puffins cereal is delicious and nutritionally excellent. For some highlights of the nutrition facts: each serving has 3 - 5 grams of fiber and only 5-6 grams (only about one teaspoon worth) of sugar per serving.

Why worry about how much fiber? Fiber helps to slow the digestion process in the body, which can enhance nutrient absorption and balance blood sugar levels. Plus fiber helps to lower cholesterol levels and promote heart health!

In our house, we have a little guy who (much to my dismay) has a wicked sweet tooth! So needless to say, he LOVES the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Puffins and I love them too because they have about half the sugar as compared to other 'chocolate' cereals, which typically have 10 - 12 grams (or more) sugar per serving, which is equal to about 3 teaspoons of sugar.

I also recommend these cereals to the pro athletes that I work with because of the fiber, lower sugar content, and great taste! Quick tip for athletes: have a bowl of Puffins with a sliced banana and low fat milk for a pre-workout breakfast or post workout snack!
Another personal favorite from Barbara's Bakery are Shredded Spoonfuls, which are delicious stirred into yogurt, with milk, or just as they are for a snack! 

WIN A PUFFINS PRIZE PACK:  One lucky winner will receive a Puffins Prize Pack, which includes the following: a sampling of Barbara’s signature cereal line including Puffins Original, Puffins Multigrain and Puffins Peanut Butter & Chocolate (the newest addition!), a reusable canvas tote bag and cute Puffin plush.

HOW TO ENTER? Let me know why you want this Puffins Prize Pack by placing a comment on this post OR for an optional entry "like" Creative Nutrition Solutions (my new page) on Facebook and leave a comment on this post telling me that you did this.

Timeline: This giveaway will run until, Monday, July 16th, 2012 at 11:59pm EST. A winner will be chosen at random and contacted via email on Tuesday, July 17th.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Easy and healthy way to prepare sweet potatoes

Baked Fish with Green Peppers Parmesan Cheese on top, Baked Cumin & Massala Seasoned Sweet Potato Fries, Fresh Salad & Tomato Yogurt Dipping Sauce

Baked Fish Ingredients: 
3 fish filet 
1 lime
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp thyme
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
½ cayenne peppers
Parmesan Cheese

Clean fish
Finely chop parsley, thyme and garlic
In a bowl, place fish with all ingredients
Cover with plastic wrap and leave for 30 mins
Bake for 15 mins according to thickness in a pre-heated oven at 350
At 19 mins top fish with parmesan cheese

Baked Sweet Potato Fries Ingredients:
3 large sweet potatoes
Olive oil/coconut oil to coat
2 tbsp fresh parsley
2 tbsp thyme
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground masala

Wash and peel sweet potatoes
Finely chop parsley, thyme and garlic
Chop to desired equal thickness and shape
In a large bowl, place all ingredients
Coat well with olive oil or coconut oil
Bake for 20-25 mins in a pre-heated oven at 400-420

Tomato Yogurt Sauce Ingredients:
½ cup tomato paste
½ cup natural unsweetened yogurt
1-2 tbsp honey/agave nectar

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well

And Enjoy!