Choose Natural and Organic to Fuel up Your Workout

The importance of eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise have been promoted to the general public for some time now. Consumers seem to be getting the message and are hitting the gym in record numbers. But the health benefits of daily exercise may be hampered by the fact that most consumers’ balanced diets don’t actually include very much real food.

As crazy as that sounds, it’s true. Mechanized farming and genetic modification have actually reduced the overall quality and antioxidant value in many of the fresh fruits and vegetables we consumer. But what’s even worse is that many time-strapped consumers turn to prepackaged, processed foods and drive-thru restaurants for a majority of their meals. This is not real food.

What’s the difference?

Conventionally grown fruits, vegetables and grains are typically genetically modified and use dangerous toxins such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and traditionally produced meats and seafood often contain added growth hormones and antibiotics. Consuming such toxins is something everyone should avoid, not just athletes and gym goers.

In addition, processed foods tend to be high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats, which have been linked to increases in obesity, various diseases and chronic ailments.

However, real foods, such as organic fruits, vegetables and grains, grass-fed meats and wild-caught seafood do not contain any of these toxins, and in some instances may have higher nutritional or antioxidant values.

Why we need real food

Food fuels our bodies, and while the quality of foods we choose is important for everyone, it’s especially important for athletes and exercise enthusiasts who need to replace vital nutrients and energy expended during a workout.

In addition, consuming high levels of antioxidants has been shown to decrease the risk of certain diseases.

What you can do

Increasing your daily intake of real foods isn’t all that difficult. A good place to start is by choosing organic fruits and vegetables. While organic produce can be a little more expensive, it’s easy to mitigate the higher costs by buying what’s in season in your area instead of paying extra for out-of-season produce that had to be transported.

Another good idea is to avoid processed foods whenever possible. While this may mean a bit more meal planning and cooking at home, you’ll likely see an increase in your energy level, which will make it well worth it.

Lastly, try to stay away from foods that are high in unhealthy fats, salt and sugar. This is a tough one for most people, as it usually means avoiding fast food altogether, but you’ll see big improvements on the scale if you’ve been working out in an attempt to lose weight.

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Prepare to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

We hear it all the time. Everyone should eat more fruits and vegetables. In fact, the Center for Disease Control suggests that eating a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables could lower the risk of certain diseases. So why is it that we often reach for a sugary snack or other high-calorie foods when we’re in a hurry and hunger strikes?

More often than not, it comes down to convenience. You try to eat healthy, but when you’re crunched for time it just seems easier to grab a granola bar (which are often high in fat and sugar) or rip open a bag of chips.

Busy shouldn’t mean unhealthy

It doesn’t help that today’s food manufacturers are well-aware of our busy lifestyles. They cash in on our need for eating on the go by selling bite-sized snack foods in individual-serving sized packages. While this sounds great, it makes us far more likely to keep a few packs of high-sodium cheese crackers or miniature sandwich cookies in our gym bags, instead of a banana or an apple.

While there are some companies that offer pre-cut fruits or veggies, they are often much more expensive than buying the whole fruit and may even contain preservatives to keep them fresher longer.

Fortunately, with a little preparation, eating more fruits and vegetables isn’t that difficult, and it can even be less costly than some of those pre-packaged snacks.

A better plan

The key is to plan ahead. Yes, you will need to spend a little time in the kitchen, but it is well worth the effort and will quickly become part of your regular routine.

Start by heading to the produce section of your favorite grocery store or a nearby farmers’ market. Take a look around to see what types of fruits and vegetables they offer, and be sure to look for any special sales they may be having. Buying featured sale items or produce that’s in season is a great way to keep your costs down and will also help you add variety to your diet, as the sale items are likely to change each week.

Another way to keep costs down is to only buy as much as you think you will eat within a few days to a week. Because fresh produce doesn’t contain any preservatives, it doesn’t have as long of a shelf life as most pre-packaged snacks.

Take stock to avoid waste

Once you get your items home, take a quick inventory of your purchase and make a plan for how/when you’ll be eating each item. If you just throw everything in the fridge, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll be throwing it all in the garbage next week. But don’t worry, putting a plan together is simple.

For breakfast, fresh blueberries can be used for your morning cereal without much prep work at all. Just wash and store them in the fridge and grab a handful each morning.

For lunch, instead of having those single-serve bags of chips with your sandwich, cut green peppers into wedges or slice carrots into sticks and pack them in sandwich bags. They’ll stay fresh in the fridge for the work week, so you can just grab a bag or two when you pack your lunch.

For dinner or an evening snack, slice a pineapple into cubes and store it in a container in the fridge. They’ll go great with your favorite rice dish, or put some on a skewer if you’ll be firing up the grill. They also make a great evening snack when you feel like something sweet but want to keep it healthy.

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Easy methods to estimate your servings

There is no question that being able to watch your diet is going to be extremely helpful for your overall health. When you learn to estimate the serving sizes you get with each meal, you will have more control of your diet and you will be able to maintain an ideal weight. We are now going to give you some easy methods to estimate your serving sizes and this is going to prove to be very useful for your life in general. Remember that you need to consult with a nutritionist before you make any changes to your diet.

Here are some ideal guides to help you portion control your food. The foods listed below are to be consumed in moderation. One great way the strategies below could work is if you are going out for dinner. Use this portion control guide and take the rest home for later.

This is one of the most common things that people include in their diets. We put butter in many of the foods that we enjoy eating. One tablespoon contains about 34 calories, with a total of 4 grams of fat. The size of this serving is about the size of the tip of your thumb. That would be a good estimation for the amount of butter to consume per meal.

This is probably the most common and popular pasta in the world because it’s very easy to make. ½ cup of cooked spaghetti equals about 99 calories and 1 gram of fat. You should eat a serving that is about as big as your fist and this would be ideal. Remember to try and choose the whole grain spaghetti option to keep your blood sugar levels in check.

Chicken soup with noodles
When you eat chicken soup with noodles, you usually eat much more than you are supposed to, because you don’t really feel like you are getting full. The ideal portion is 1 cup to get 175 calories and about 6 grams of fat. This serving is about the size of a baseball.

This is another very common and nutritious pasta that is served in many tables all over the world. The ideal serving for Lasagna is about the size of two hockey pucks. This is the equivalent of 270 calories and 8 grams of fat. Just like spaghetti, try and opt for the whole grain version.

This is one of the top best meals to eat because it includes a lot of protein and it’s perfect for people who want to get lean muscles while losing fat. The ideal serving of steak is about the size of a deck of cards. This means you would be getting 3 oz. of beef and 219 calories with about 13 grams of fat.

Mashed potatoes
This is a great and healthy option to go with your meals. ½ cup of mashed potatoes equals 112 calories and 5 grams of fat. The best way to measure a good portion of mashed potatoes is to compare it with half a standard American Apple. Remember to always eat potatoes in moderation. And if you can, try out sweet potatoes. They taste great and are friendlier to the waste-line.

Cheese is a very delicious food to have, but you need to come up with an ideal amount of cheese to eat. Four standard dice that are used for gambling are the best way to estimate the perfect serving of Swiss cheese for example. This equals 107 calories and 8 grams of fat.

There is nothing more important than being able to keep your meal sizes under control. This is going to help you keep an ideal weight and it also leads to a much healthier lifestyle. Being able to estimate the size of each one of your servings is going to be a very useful method that can have a very positive impact in your life.

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Nutritious Foods That Will Make You Physically Fit

When it comes to being healthy, we all think about exercise. It helps in reducing weight loss, maintenance and prevents many diseases as well as increases the metabolism.

Healthy eating is often overlooked. To increase the fitness level, eating healthy will improve your fitness. Healthy eating and exercise work hand in hand.

Despite the many foods that have been taken to be physically fit in the recent past, there are certain foods that are indeed “super” and provide more nutrients than others. People who are not getting good results from gym workouts need to shake up their diets and think about the missing ingredients to register an improvement. Research has proved that the foods below makes one strong, revamps the metabolism and burns fat. Stocking up on these ingredients is thus quite essential.

Oatmeal. Research has shown that a daily consumption of a bowl of oatmeal lowers blood cholesterol because of its fibre content. Food and drug administration said that the food with a lot of oat bran reduces the risk of heart disease in combination with a low fat diet. This meal is recommended for athletes and weight trainers due to its high concentration in carbohydrates and water soluble fibre which stabilises blood glucose levels.

Raisins. These are good fruits for gaining weight in a healthy way. They contain glucose, fructose and a lot of potential energy. Athletes and bodybuilders who want to add on weight without accumulating unhealthy amount of cholesterol. They boost the diet further because they also have vitamins, amino acids and minerals. They also facilitates efficient consumption of other proteins and vitamins

Bananas. This fruit is known to reduce cancer tumour growth, prevent diarrhoea and heart health. They also boost the mood of athletes during training sessions.

Ginger. Its powder consists of essential nutrients that treat nausea caused by morning sickness, and chemotherapy. It has been known to reduce muscle pain by 20% and thus bodybuilders and athletes should take it.

Tart cherries. By sipping a juice, the cherries are loaded with vital nutrients. They provide a lot of calories and are good for heart health.

Turmeric. It is the main spice in the curry with a warm and bitter taste. They are known to reduce joint pains during training and workouts.

Eggs. Their yolk is rich in amino acids which restarts muscle repair. They have a lot of vitamins and calories that provide energy.

Whey protein. As a mixture of globular proteins, the liquid is a dietary supplement that improves muscle growth and movements in the body.

Salmon. Its meat is nutritious because it enhances muscle growth and strength

Pistachios. They have wholesome nutrition properties as they are good sources of protein, fats and minerals. They reduce post-workout hunger for athletes.

Beets. They provide fibre, vitamins, minerals and small fat amount that boost the cardiovascular health. For this reason, they reduce fatigue during workouts.

Soya beans. They consist of the highest amount of protein content amongst other plant products. It has 8 different amino acids and provides good fibre content for digestion. The beans have calcium which strengthens bones and joints.

By consuming the above foods in correct amounts, athletes and gym goers have no reason to fail in the achievement of their fitness goals.

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Smoothies that combat stress

Stress is inevitable. Unfortunately we face stressful situations on a daily basis. It can be brought about by a variety of scenarios such as work, relationship issues, the death of a loved one, loss of a job and many others. Some of these factors may be unavoidable however, there are foods that can easily help restrain the consequences of high stress levels.

When a person becomes stressed, the body secretes hormones such as epinephrine and cortisol that can lead to sleeping problems, weight gain, depression and even extreme illnesses such as diabetes and cancer. Once the perceived threat is gone, the hormone levels begin to normalize and these effects die down.
If you are often stressed out, there are foods that contain vital ingredients that will help combat and minimalize stress.

A great way to consume these foods is in the form of a smoothie. They taste incredible, easy to make and take you no time at all.
Here are examples of smoothies that help minimize stress levels

  • Bee pollen, nutmeg, cinnamon, Greek yogurt, avocado, carrot, walnut, and almond milk smoothie.
  • Banana, walnut, spinach, coconut oil, almond milk, and almond smoothie.
  • Fig, banana, walnut and water smoothie. This is ideal for someone who prefers fewer ingredients.
  • Pumpkin purée, coconut water, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, ice, banana, Greek yogurt, and walnut.
  • A great day starter is the banana, flaxseed, walnut, granola, and raspberry drink.
  • Avocado, orange, pineapple, and walnut smoothie; the ideal remedy to minimizing stress.

All these smoothies contain important foods that help you to overcome high stress level for instance walnuts; they have omega-3 essential fatty acids that are reported to boost one’s mood, and are highly related to minimizing depression rates.

Also, fruit containing high levels of vitamin C such as berries, kiwi and oranges are scientifically proven to reduce stress.
Bananas minimize stress in a natural manner. It contains a chemical compound (vitamin B6) that increases serotonin levels, soothes the nervous system, and makes you feel more relaxed and less frustrated. Fresh apple juice is great for the body and should be on the menu daily.

Ginger and vanilla bean are also great stress relievers. Ginger helps to boost your current mood and prevents negative energy. Gingerol, which is the main element in ginger, helps clear out malign chemicals secreted by the body that leads to psychological stress when a person is worried. Vanilla beans help soothe, calm and relax the body. Its very smell activates feel-good sensations in the body.
Life has several stressful situations and we will constantly be exposed to them. Having a fruit smoothie rich in vitamin C on a daily basis will help reduce, or even prevent the effects of stress hormones.

Sometimes these stressful situations are unavoidable. But the good thing is that smoothies provide way in which the stress levels can be minimized or even completely eradicated as well as tasting so good! Something as simple as a glass of smoothie daily is all it takes to make the difference.

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Greens Are Good

Eating well is key to a healthy lifestyle. Adding greens to your diet can help you pack some powerhouse nutrients into your meals. Leafy greens like kale, collard greens, chard, bok choy, arugula, and spinach just to name a few, are great greens to introduce to your daily diet. Green vegetables are loaded with protein and contain a ton of micronutrients, including folate, carotenoids, such as lutein and zeazanthin (promoting healthy vision), calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. These leafy greens have the potential of warding off many types of cancers and are very good for your heart health.

Eating a huge salad everyday does not sound like a fun way to get greens into your diet. There are many ways to include these important greens in your meals, without having to endure a large salad every day. Try some of these tips to enjoy the nutrients of green vegetables in your every day.

This is an easy way to include leafy greens into your dishes. Simply lightly steam the green you’re using then puree it with a bit of stock water until it is smooth. Once it is smooth, simply add it to the recipe. At this point, you can also freeze some in ice cube trays to use in recipes down the road. Add the leafy green puree to your soup, chili, pasta sauces, stew or even scrambled eggs.

Another easy way to get a serving of greens into your diet is to drink it. Just toss a few fresh leaves of silverbeet or arugula into your juicer.

Mix in some greens with your fruit smoothie. Adding some leafy greens with the blended fruit will give you the nutrients you need in a delicious morning drink.

Steaming is a great way to get greens from counter to table with little time required. Don’t overcook them or most of the nutrients disappear into the water below. When they are done, top them with a bit of garlicky olive oil and sea salt.

Toss the greens into a hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil and some additional spices or ingredients. Saute the greens and add to your dish. If greens are tough, like kale, you may have to steam them a bit before transferring them to the pan.

By using these tips to add greens into your daily routine, you’ll end up flooding your body with the beneficial disease fighting nutrients, sometimes without even knowing you’re eating them.

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Meal Quick Changes

Eating nutritious food is one of the best ways to improve your overall health. It is important to get the right nutrients to keep your body working properly. We all know a healthy diet consists of the right amount of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats. There are simple switches you can make to make your meal a little more healthy.

White, processed foods, fried foods, foods high in calories are the ones you want to try to substitute. Instead of choosing white processed flour, breads, and pasta, make the better choice and substitute them for whole grains. Whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta are the better option for your health.

Another way to improve your healthy eating is by changing the way you cook your food. Turn the fried foods to baked foods. Put your chicken and French fries in the oven to bake rather than cooking them in grease. Instead of boiling your vegetables, steam them. Steaming will also keep more nutrients in the vegetables while boiling can leech out some of the better nutrients.

You can also limit the amount of processed meat and red meat you eat and choose a healthier option of chicken, fish or tofu. Some studies have linked an increase risk of colorectal and stomach cancers with eating large amounts of processed meats.

Try substituting items in your meal so you don’t consume as many calories. For example, you don’ t have to skip out on the macaroni and cheese dish you love so much, pick healthier ingredients instead. Make your dish with skim milk, less butter and light cream cheese rather than using whole milk, butter and full-fat cheese. You can also mash up some cauliflower to replace mashed potatoes. Mashed cauliflower has only a fraction of the calories of potatoes and if you do it right, nearly impossible to taste the difference.

A lot of the time you can change how healthy your meal is by changing up a couple of the ingredients all while keeping the main meal intact. Here are some substitutions to try:

Egg Whites = Whole Eggs
Applesauce = Butter and Oil in cooking
Nonfat Greek Yogurt = Mayonnaise or Sour Cream
Mashed Avocado = Butter or Oil in cooking

Mashed Bananas = Sugar, Butter and fats
Nuts = Croutons in salads
Rolled Oats = Bread Crumbs
Soda Water = Tonic Water
Whole Wheat Flour = White Flour
Zucchini or Spaghetti Squash = Pasta
Black Beans = Flour
Marshmallow Fluff = Frosting
Evaporated Skim Milk = Cream
Stevia = Sugar
Cinnamon = Cream and Sugar in Coffee

Popcorn = Potato Chips
Red Wine = White Wine
Ground Turkey = Ground Beef

Eating healthier does not have to mean skipping out on your favorite dishes. Make some of these changes and even research some other ideas so you can still enjoy your meal without all the negative effects.

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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Even if you yourself do not have a restricted diet, chances are you probably know someone who does. Whether it is by choice or due to food allergies or intolerances, more and more people are becoming aware of foods that don’t sit well with their bodies and are consequently removing them from their diet.

With all these kinds of food restrictions and dietary needs out there, it can become a difficult task to host a successful dinner party where all your guests’ different tastes and requirements are catered to. It is becoming more common for you to ask your guests ahead of time about their food restrictions. With diets of Paleo, vegan, no carb, no gluten, as well as food allergies, it can be very difficult planning a menu that will meet everyone’s needs and likes. Hopefully it won’t discourage you to plan a lovely night in with your family and friends.

Fortunately, it has become a little easier to plan a meal with food restrictions. There are a lot more specialty foods available to purchase such as gluten free flours, vegan meats substitutions. Hopefully this means that no one will be stuck with just eating a side salad while the rest of the group enjoys a delicious main course. A guest with a dietary restriction may not be able to eat everything that you have prepared for the feast, but be prepared to make some changes to the menu so they feel just as welcomed to your party as everyone else.

It is just as important as a recipient of a dinner invitation to kindly let the host know of your specific dietary restrictions. This should be done in a tasteful, thoughtful and appreciative manner. A response such as, “Thanks so much for asking, I’m not sure if you already know, but Bill and I don’t eat meat, but we do however happily eat fish and seafood”. This is a great opportunity to give the host all the information they would need for their dinner party to be successful as well – making it a great night out with friends and family.

Tips for the Host:

  • Do your homework. Ask each guest of any dietary restrictions. If there is a restriction, ask what they can eat.
  • Ask specifically for recommendations or recipes.
  • Ask the guest to bring a dish or dishes to share.
  • Check out many menu options online that will suit their restriction.
  • Choose a menu that is simple and enjoyable for all your guests.
  • Be mindful of cross contamination.

Tips for the Guest:

  • Call ahead and inform the host of your restrictions.
  • Offer to bring a dish for everyone to enjoy.
  • Offer your advice if the host has any questions.
  • Have a snack or full meal if necessary before you go.
  • Be gracious and thankful for any menu changes they made for you.

If everyone is open and honest about dietary restrictions and menu options then there is no reason for the host or the dinner guests not to have an enjoyable meal.

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Recovery Food

You put so much effort into your workout and making sure you strengthen and tone your muscles correctly to get the results you want. It is just as important to eat the right food post-workout to ensure you are doing right for your body. Eating quality food post-workout is crucial. In order to optimize your results, you need to replace the amino acids and glycogen lost during your workout.

The muscle building process is started by increasing protein synthesis and nitrogen retention and the body requires a quick dose of the right protein and carbohydrates. Protein shakes and chicken and rice just won’t cut it every time. Your body prefers a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods.

Try some of these post-workout foods.

  • Lean chicken meat (white meat). Chicken is rich in protein and helps repair your damaged muscles after a workout.
  • Salmon is an excellent source of protein. Besides stimulating your metabolism, protein is great for filling you up and therefore taking in fewer calories. Salmon is also rich in omega-3 fats which helps fight inflammation, regulates insulin levels and can even lower the risk of heart diseases and stroke.
  • Egg Whites. Eggs contain all the essential amino acids which are required for a fast recovery from muscle building workouts. It is important to cook the egg whites so they are not overcooked. Cooking them properly will help to unlock their full amino acid spectrum and allow you to get the most of your food.
  • Beans are a good source of proteins and fiber. Fiber helps to regulate the insulin levels, which is important for muscle growth. The best choices for beans are Kidney and Navy because of their low calories and high proteins.
  • Milk contains proteins of 80% whey and 20% casein. Whey is quickly broken down into amino acids, making milk an excellent drink after work. Casein is digested more slowly, providing the body with a constant supply of smaller amounts of protein over a longer period of time.
  • Lean Beef. Red meats are good bodybuilding foods that are packed with proteins and minerals such as iron and zinc. But they also contain a high level of saturated fats, so eat red meat in moderation.
  • WATER. The human body is made up of 70% water. Water helps to make your muscles look fuller and more toned. Just as important, water helps to transport minerals and nutrients throughout your body, speeding up the muscle-building process.

You can also try this delicious post-workout meal of Protein Pancakes:

Mix four egg whites, ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup of cottage cheese, 1/8 teaspoon of baking powder and ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Cook on a preheated griddle on medium to low heat until it bubbles like a regular pancake, flip and cook the other side. Top these delicious pancakes with some fresh fruit.
These are loaded with protein and not a lot of carbohydrates which make it a perfect meal to help retain muscle tissue when trying to lean up.

If you eat properly after a good workout, you’ll help your body and muscles benefit from all your hard work.

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Superfoods for Energy

Is your day just dragging on and you can’t seem to keep your eyes open let alone accomplish some major tasks? Try changing up what you eat to boost your energy levels and help you sail through your day.

An excess of sugars or foods that are high on the glycemic index can drain your battery quickly and leave you feeling sluggish and tired. Try to stay away from “white” breads and refined grains and choose items that may be higher in fibre. Flaxseed, fish oils and lean protein are your better choices to boost your energy. Try some of these superfoods:

  • Brown Rice – it’s better for you than the white variety and will help make you feel fuller for longer.
  • Oats – they are high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins E and B and high in protein. It will help keep you feeling full and aid with stress and tiredness.
  • Broccoli – has lots of cancer-fighting properties as well as being a great energy provider. It also contains lots of fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C.
  • Lentils – not only are they are colourful and add to a nice look to your plate, they will help keep your energy levels high.
  • Almonds – almonds are an easy and quick snack that contains vitamin E, B, magnesium and iron, all which help boost your energy.
  • Leafy Greens – iron is key to your energy levels. Not enough iron will keep you feeling fatigued. Add some romaine, spinach, or kale to your diet and increase iron, and vitamin C levels leaving you with added energy.
  • Coconut Oil – try a spoon full of oil to boost your energy. Coconut oil is quickly processed into energy.
  • Bananas – this snack can boost your energy level while taming that sweet tooth of yours. Bananas are high in vitamin B6 which helps produce energy more quickly.
  • Quinoa – contains B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and iron. Quinoa will fill you up and energize you as well.

Keep some these foods on hand. Pack them in your lunch and when you start to feel a slump in the day, get some of these pick me up snacks. For a nearly instant energy boost that lasts, eat a healthy snack that contains protein and a complex carbohydrate. If you eat the right foods, you’ll have an energized, productive day.

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