Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Eating On-The-Go: How to Decide What to Get

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of SUBWAY. All opinions are my own.

A question that I receive from both CNC readers and DTFN clients is how to eat healthy on-the-go. Of course, in a perfect world, we’d all have our meals and snacks prepped and ready to go, but, hey, life happens and sometimes you’re out and about, far from your kitchen, and you’re HUNGRY. I totally get it, and I’ve been there… many times. Over the years, I’ve learned how to get creative with my food choices, so I wanted to share how I decide what to eat when I’m on-the-go.

Healthy Eating On-the-Go_How to Decide

Find what’s fresh

When I have a choice between eating establishments, I always pick the one that has the freshest ingredients, like salads, sandwiches, and wraps, with plenty of colorful and nutritious options. I’m a big fan of salad and hot bars as well as places that let you customize your meal to your preference. For instance, I like SUBWAY because it makes it easy for people to incorporate all sorts of healthy ingredients and add an extra punch of color to their meal when they’re on the go. Speaking of which…

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Add color 

I love when restaurants allow you to pick and choose from a variety of ingredients and toppings, especially when it comes to salads and sandwiches. Creating the perfect combination is a lot of fun, especially if it increases the nutrients in my meal and fills me up. At SUBWAY, in particular, you can choose from 10 different veggie options for your sandwich or salad– everything from cucumbers to spinach to green peppers. SUBWAY actually has millions (yes, millions!) of handcrafted sandwich combinations, which can offer up at least two extra servings of vegetables to your diet. Fun fact: This is over 40% of the American Heart Association’s daily recommendation.

In 2016, SUBWAY and the American Heart Association teamed up to launch +color, an on-going initiative to encourage Americans to add more fruits and vegetables to their diet and better understand the important health benefits that this change can mean. Just by adding an extra cup of color to your diet everyday can help improve your health!

Check out the sides 

You might be surprised to hear this, but the side options at many restaurants are sometimes some of the healthiest when it comes to dining out. A lot of places offer fresh fruit, steamed and raw veggies, soup, chili, salsa, mashed potatoes, hummus, and more.

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Power up the protein

When I’m on-the-go, I’m all about finding a meal that will fill me up and keep me satisfied, which is why I always look for one with a hearty portion of protein. Some of my favorites: Salad with chicken, hard-boiled eggs, or cheese, breakfast sandwich (any time of day), burrito bowl with meat and beans, Greek yogurt with fruit, and oatmeal with a packet of nut butter (sometimes I’ll throw in some protein powder too – I usually have some in my car). At SUBWAY, you can double up on your meat portion, so, the last time I was there, I ordered the Rotisserie-Style Chicken Salad, which has 23 grams of protein in it!

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Look for what else will satisfy

If I order a salad or sandwich when I’m out, I typically add some healthy fats, quality carbs, or extra condiments to make my meal more satisfying while increasing it’s overall tastiness. Some favorites: guacamole, hummus, salsa, mustard, hot sauce, pickles, jalapenos, crumbled feta, olives, and, of course, extra veggies since they’re so filling!

Pay attention to portion size

Portion size is definitely important when you’re eating out since they’re typically pretty inflated. If a portion just looks massive, I’ll share with Mal or take part of it home for later. A lot of times, I’ll incorporate restaurant leftovers into a healthy meal at home, so it doesn’t go to waste!

Question of the Day

When you’re on-the-go, how do you decide what to eat?

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Our First Nutrition Lecture + Advice for Starting a New Meal Plan

Guys, Designed to Fit World is SO EXCITING right now!!!

Ok, well, truthfully, it’s a tad stressful too (give me ALLTHEWINE), but, whoa, it’s awesome. Kerrie and I talked about this meal plan venture for years, and I still can’t believe it’s a reality. It’s truly the job that I’ve always wanted to do. Even in the moments when I’m feeling totally overwhelmed, I remind myself how LUCKY I am to do something that makes me so happy. I really love helping people and talking about food! 🙂

So, we had our first nutrition lecture at Fit Factory in Kingston. We’re hoping to do a lot more of these info sessions with gyms, health clubs, studios, CrossFits, etc., in the area to help spread the word about DTFN.

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The talk lasted about an hour, and we had all sorts of handouts, recipes, discounts, and snacks for attendees.

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And we had quite the turn out with close to 30 members!

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Kerrie and Ashley, our Registered Dietitian extraordinaire, split the content of the lecture while I cheered them on. Haha! I really don’t like public speaking and avoid it at all costs. Kerrie and Ashley are great at it, so I let them do their thing. I made the food for the event and did the social media. I’m more of a “behind the scenes” kind of person… hence, why I like this blogging stuff so much! 🙂

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During the lecture, Kerrie and Ashley had some great advice for starting a new meal plan, so I wanted to share it with you guys!

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  • Treat your new meal plan/Whole30/gym challenge as a learning experience. Measure and track your food, try new things, find your support system, and really, truly figure out what works for you. What works for one person, might not work for someone else, and that’s totally okay. Figure what makes sense for your lifestyle.
  • Focus on what you suck at. Do you eat breakfast in your car? Is lunch a tough meal for you? Do you need to have something sweet after dinner? Figure out where you struggle and focus on that. For instance, I love dessert, and I know restriction doesn’t work for me. I’ve tried to do the all-or-nothing thing over the years, but I always ended up going crazy a few days later. I know I suck at restrictions, so now I make a little treat a part of my day everyday.
  • Treat snacks as smaller meals. A well-rounded snack with a balance of carbs, protein, and fat will satisfy you much better than a bag of pretzels or protein bar.
  • Take progress pictures. The scale is JUST a number and progress pictures show changes in your body composition. A great example is this DTFN client (below), who “only” lost 2.5 pounds in 8 weeks, but look how different her body looks! She clearly lost fat despite the number of the scale. Progress pictures for the win!

natalie

Question of the Day

Your turn! What have you learned from trying a new meal plan or diet? Any words of wisdom to share?

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Clean Eating Taco Hummus Recipe

Clean Eating Taco Hummus

As many of you know, I simply love Mexican food. It’s incredible stuff. I could eat it seven days a week and never get tired of it. So I tend to do a lot with those types of flavors whenever I can,… Read more →



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11 Physical Challenges to Take This Month

Female trail runner leaps an obstacle along a mountain top.Some people don’t need any help finding physical challenges. They naturally and intuitively figure out ways to engage physically with the world and test their prowess. But that’s not everyone, or else we’d see people sprinting down the street, hurdling park benches, climbing flagpoles, and swinging from tree branch to tree branch. It’d be a cool world, to be sure. It’s just not the one we live in.

In this world, where physical challenges are usually optional, we have to go looking for them.

What are some fitness challenges to try? I’ve got 11.

1. Climb a tree tall enough to make you a little queasy.

How high you go depends on the climber’s faculties and experience. Don’t underestimate yourself on this one, however.

This one, of course, tests both psychological and physical fitness. Everyone has that point where they begin questioning the decision to climb. And climbing itself requires hand-eye coordination, tactical planning, and physical strength. Compared to bouldering, climbing a tree is much more user-friendly, allowing the climber to dictate the terms of ascent. You can rest in between branches, or go full steam ahead. You can get winded, or take long rest periods in between bouts of exertion.

Try different routes up and back. Practice until you can ascend and descend smoothly.

Do pullups and dips on the branches. Use your legs for assistance if needed.

Take a selfie at the top. Post it to social media and bask in the adulation. You earned it.

2. Return to an activity you used to do all the time but haven’t touched in years.

For me, it’d be basketball. I always liked the game but was too small to make it very far in school. That’s actually why I turned to running—the more illustrious football and basketball options didn’t work for a guy my size.

Maybe you were incredibly passionate about martial arts as a kid, but drifted away after high school. Go take an introductory class at the local gym. They’re usually free.

Maybe you were a decent wrestler in high school. Get back into it. Barring that, roughhouse with a friend.

Maybe you figure skated as a kid, giving it up when it became apparent you weren’t elite-level material. Go down to the ice rink and strap on a pair. See how it feels.

Unearth your passions and check for viability.

3. Go rucking for at least 3 hours.

From hunter-gatherers lugging auroch quarters back to camp, Roman legionairres carrying 80 pound packs on campaigns, to patchouli-scented trustafarians backpacking their bong through Bali, the act of trekking with something heavy on your person is a time-honored human tradition.

Maybe you grab a couple friends and go backpacking in the nearest uninterrupted slice of nature (lots of places have short backpacking trips you can cover in 2-3 nights). Maybe you do a dayhike with a really heavy bag. Maybe you freak your neighbors out by walking around the block a few times with a kettlebell in the rack position.

Just carry something heavy and go walk.

4. Swim in cold water for ten minutes.

Aim for sub-65° water. Cold enough that you inhale sharply, but not so cold that you have to take Wim Hof’s course just to survive.

Swim sprints with plenty of rest. Swim laps at a slow pace. Try swimming the entire length of the pool underwater. See at least how far you can get.

Breaststroke and freestyle are the easiest strokes to learn from scratch.

You don’t have to swim. You could just sit there. But I find swiming, even very light swimming, helps me deal with the cold water.

5. Try a set of weighted max-rep (20 minimum) squats.

There’s something about putting a moderately heavy weight on your shoulders, squatting down, coming back up, and repeating it as many times as you can.

They don’t have to be back squats. Other options include the zercher hold, the front rack position, goblet squats, wearing a weight vest, or holding weights in your hands.

They don’t have to be heavy. Aim for 20 reps at least, so choose a weight that makes that possible but really difficult at the same time. It should be a struggle toward the end (these 20 rep squats are sometimes called breathing squats, because you have to stop in the middle to catch your breath).

If squats don’t agree with you, check out any of the alternatives I mentioned a couple years ago.

6. Do the horse stance for at least five minutes.

This is the horse stance. It’s a mainstay of Chinese martial arts, whose proponents say it develops a type of lower body strength and stability unlike any other execise. It teaches you to “root” to the ground. It’s also not too bad for the quads and glutes.

Assuming you have the flexibility, it starts out real easy. But after 30-45 seconds, things get serious. Your thigh might start trembling. You might feel the urge to dip your shoulders and break the integrity of your spine. Work up to being able to sit in the horse stance for five minutes.

Do it every morning, first thing when you get up. I find it opens up the hips quite nicely, so any subsequent movement comes more easily.

For a little added difficulty, try slowly rising up on your toes while in the stance. Maintain the upright torso. Then slowly lower yourself back down. Repeat.

If you can get someone to whack you with bamboo poles every few seconds, all the better.

7. Do the Wingate Test.

The Wingate Test is what exercise physiologists use to test an athlete’s peak anaerobic output: 4 30-second, all-out sprints on a stationary bike at maximal resistance with 4 minutes rest in between. To illustrate just how difficult these are, subjects peforming Wingate Tests typically get puke buckets.

This month, take a Wingate Test. I don’t intend for you to commission a an exercise scientist to run a study on you. Just get your hands on a stationary bike of some sort, crank up the resistance, and do it. Set aside 20 minutes or so to complete the whole thing. Puke bucket is up to you.

8. Walk all day long.

Long, long walks are restorative. They’re where you find yourself, where you arrive at solutions to problems you thought were unsolvable.

But they’re also physically harder than you think. Most people just aren’t prepared to walk all day long anymore. Even people with pristine 10k daily step records bow out after a few hours.

You may have to work up to an all-day walk by taking lots of shorter walks (this is my secret trick to get you to walk more frequently).

I recommend a blend of city and country if you can make it work. That way you can stop for coffee, maybe browse a book store, ford a stream, hear a hawk’s cry, climb a tree (see above). You know: do it all.

9. Run a mile for time.

Men, try to break 7 minutes. Women, try to break 8 minutes. Move that number up if you’re older or out of shape. Drop it down if you’re younger or in great shape. But think about keeping it intact if only to motivate you to do your best.

Run that mile.

10. Compete against another human.

Competition is good, to a point. It drives us to be our best, and it wrings every last drop of quality out of us. It’s also a powerful motivator, helping us ignore pain and suffering in order to perform and beat the other person.

Competition can be formal (join an adult sports league, sign up for a StrongMan or powerlifting competition) or informal (challenge the local bully to a foot race). It can take many forms, but what’s important is that you test your physical prowess against another human.

11. Attain the feat you’ve been pining after.

Everyone has that white whale of exercises, that physical feat that just eludes us. Sometimes it remains out of grasp because we’re not really trying as hard as we can to get it. This month, get it.

Want your first real pullup? Get after it.

Want to beat your Fran time? Start training.

Want to bench press bodyweight? Redouble your efforts.

Drop everything and work solely toward achieving this specific goal. And if you don’t achieve your goal, you have improved and progressed.

Okay, enough talk. Get moving, folks. Accept a challenge, then defeat it. And maybe shared about it here, eh?

Which one are you going to try? Something from your own stash? Or are you going for more than one?

Thanks for reading, everyone.

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What to Know About Functional Beverages

Ever since the juice bar craze, we’ve come to expect more from what we drink. Here’s a closer look at three popular functional beverage options, and the evidence behind their health claims.

 

Drinking Vinegar

While adding apple cider vinegar to your diet won’t cure cancer or the flu, it may be a secret weapon in keeping blood sugar levels under control. Unlike the more outrageous claims made by proponents of apple cider vinegar, there is enough evidence that consuming it may decrease the risk of diabetes and insulin resistance. The high acetic acid content in vinegar inhibits the enzymes that help you digest carbohydrates, thereby producing a smaller blood sugar response after eating. As an added benefit, this undigested starch becomes food for the good bacteria in your gut, acting as a prebiotic that supports overall digestion and a healthier immune system. While there seems to be a big push in using apple cider vinegar, any vinegar will get the job done. Acetic acid, the carbohydrate-inhibiting ingredient, is present in all vinegars, so feel free to use whatever one you enjoy best. Additionally, you don’t have to drink the vinegar to get the benefits — eating your favorite salad with a vinegar-based dressing will work just as well.

 

Mushroom Teas

Mushroom teas — hot water brewed with whole or powdered dried mushrooms — have soared in popularity over the last few years. While these drinks are not a cure-all, they are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Jessica Kelley, MS, RD creator of Nourished by Nutrition, is a big advocate for mushroom teas and the boost they can give to an overall healthful diet. “Purchasing the powdered form of cordyceps, chaga, and reshi mushrooms extends their use to more than just tea. I find adding them to smoothies, soups, or lattes makes it easier to incorporate these mushrooms daily.”

 

Bulletproof Coffee

Dave Asprey, the creator of Bulletproof Coffee, claims that combining coffee, grass-fed butter and MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil can promote weight loss, mental focus and energy levels. While it may be delicious, the 450-calorie latte isn’t necessarily the breakfast of champions. As it’s recommended to be enjoyed without additional food, the bulletproof latte lacks the protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals that would normally be found in a balanced breakfast. However, eating a high-fat meal with caffeine could act as an appetite suppressant and therefore cause you to eat less over the course of the day, which may lead to weight loss. Bottom line, while there is benefit in swapping in medium-chain triglyceride fats, there isn’t any metabolic magic in the bulletproof coffee formula.

 

Alex Caspero MA, RD, RYT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher. She is the founder of Delish Knowledge (delishknowledge.com), a resource for healthy, whole-food vegetarian recipes. In her private coaching practice, she helps individuals find their “Happy Weight.” 



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A Biomechanical Analysis of the Deadlift: Conventional vs Sumo

Written by: Kevin Cann

The conventional deadlift versus the sumo deadlift is one of the great debates in the strength sports. Many will argue that the sumo deadlift is “cheating” because it has a shorter range of motion (ROM). People will also argue that the sumo deadlift is easier because it allows your hips to stay closer to the bar. However, is this really the case? Is the sumo deadlift an easier version of the deadlift?

Research has actually looked into this subject. Before we get into that, we need to have an understanding of the physics behind the deadlift. This applies to both the sumo version and the conventional deadlift. They are total body lifts that place demands on our back, hips, knees, and ankles. Depending on how we choose to setup, some of these change.

Front and side view of the conventional deadlift

Conventional Front

Conventional Side

Front and side view of the sumo deadlift

Sumo Front

Sumo Side

One major difference between the sumo deadlift and the conventional deadlift is on the demands that they place on our spinal extensors. The greater lean that we have of the torso; the greater the spinal flexor moment arm, making it more difficult for us to remain in an extended/neutral position. The conventional deadlift requires a 5% to 10% greater lean of the torso than the sumo deadlift. This makes the conventional deadlift tougher on our back muscles, especially our spinal erectors.

We are going to skip the hips for now and come back to them later on. In the conventional deadlift our shins are pretty vertical. At most we may have 10 degrees or so of dorsiflexion at the start. This is extremely small and the quads are probable fighting the hamstring co-contraction more than the weight of the bar to extend the knees. Unlike the squat, quad strength is most likely not a limiting factor in the conventional deadlift.

However, the sumo deadlift places different demands on the knee extensors. The sumo deadlift setup is going to have significantly more knee flexion. This places a greater demand on the quads. The sumo deadlift is basically a high squat. The greatest quad demands in the squat are coming up out of the hole. Since the sumo deadlift begins higher than the sticking point for the squat, the demands on the quads will be less than the squat, but greater than the conventional deadlift.

Now let us look at hip extension demands in each lift. Research has shown that the hip extension demands for the sumo deadlift and the conventional deadlift are the same. You may be thinking “how can this be if the hips are closer to the bar in the sumo deadlift?” To answer this question we must first understand the definition of a moment arm.

A moment arm is the length between a joint axis and the line of force acting upon the joint. The moment arm for the hip extensors in both deadlift variations is the femur. Femur length does not change. No matter where you place your feet, femur length remains a constant. The distance you lose in the saggital plane (plane of motion that cuts the body into left and right), you pick up in the frontal plane (plane of motion that cuts the body in half from back to front). In either variation the further your hips get behind the bar, the more difficult it is for your hip extensors.

With that said, the conventional deadlift does require approximately 25% to 40% more mechanical work than the sumo deadlift. This is due to the greater distance the bar needs to travel. With the feet wider and the hands typically closer, the bar travels less of a distance for the sumo deadlift than it will for the conventional deadlift. Does this make it easier though?

I do not think it is as simple as lifting the bar less distance makes it easier. The sumo deadlifts are going to be more difficult off of the ground and the conventional pull will be most difficult around the bottom of the knees. People miss lifts because they are not strong enough through these weak points. If you have weak spinal erectors, then the sumo deadlift will feel easier than the conventional deadlift because it hides these weaknesses by allowing you to have a more vertical torso.

On the other hand, if you have a weak squat and can’t break the bar off of the floor in a sumo position, chances are you have weak quads and the conventional pull will be easier for you, even though it requires 25% to 40% more mechanical work. If you participate in Crossfit, the mechanical work piece may be important since it will make higher rep sets easier to complete and for a faster time.

Hip anatomy and mobility will also play a role. Ultimately you need to find which variation works best for you. The one that works best now may not be the one that works best later on down the road. Find a good coach and learn how to use both variations. I actually like the sumo deadlift as a squat builder. It helps build the quad and upper back strength required in the bottom of the squat.

Mess around with both variations and see which one works best for you. This should be done over a few months to give each one a fair amount of time to train. Make sure you have a good coach watch you, because techniques in both are very important. You may do better in the sumo deadlift, but it is a very technical lift. You do not want to miss out on big strength gains because you are performing it incorrectly. The hip extension demands are the same, the conventional deadlift requires more back strength, and the sumo deadlift requires more quad strength. Understanding those differences can help you pick which one may be best for you. If you have had back issues in the past, stick with a sumo pull, as it places less shear force on the spine due to the more upright torso.

References:

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What’s For Breakfast?

When this cute little boy pitter patters up to my bedroom each morning with his bedhair, jammies and cold feet, we snuggle under the covers for 5 minutes before getting up for the day. I usually ask him then “What do you want for breakfast?” He’s been on a smoothie kick for a long time, and he also really likes oatmeal. But his most requested breakfast request is PANCAKES! On busy mornings when we’re on a schedule to get out the door, I have been making Anne’s Gluten Free, High Protein Pancake Recipe, which in our house is just called a “banana egg pancake.”

The recipe involves just three main ingredients plus added flavors – two eggs, a mashed banana, chia seeds, cinnamon and vanilla. It’s kind of a cross between a pancake and a crepe, I’d say. Pour the batter in a buttered omelet pan over low heat and it’s ready in 5 minutes.

I just love how quick this is to whip up and how easy it is to make one big thin pancake and cut it up as opposed to 5 smaller ones that cook at different rates. Mazen and I usually share one with some fruit and peanut butter, although we can each eat a whole one no problem too!

I recently had lunch at The Salad Maker, our new downtown salad-heavy spot. I customized my own with romaine, olives, goat cheese, sunflower seeds, corn, carrots, and a creamy almond dressing. ‘Twas very good and hit the spot! Loved the little rye cracker on top.

This is still the best kombucha I’ve tried. I love that it’s not sour but it’s also not too sweet. It’s my favorite cocktail hour drink, other than wine of course.

Dinner production was an old favorite – sweet potato rounds, sautĂ©ed kale and baked cod.

Have a great day you guys!

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