Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Best On-the-Go Breakfasts for Runners

Good morning!

Runner’s World recently reached out to me about their first-ever list of the “Best Packaged Foods for Runners.” And, of course, in a perfect world, we’d all buy the freshest food available, but we all depend on packaged foods, too, for quick, on-the-go options. Being an athlete and runner myself, I know that finding a healthy choice with a short prep-time is super important.

Runner’s World selected an expert panel of registered dietitians to identified the best foods while keeping healthy factors in mind, including: a preference for organic and non-GMO selections, simple/recognizable ingredients (e.g. whole foods, whole grains), taste, calories, and convenience. The selections were then divided into categories of the Best Foods for each specific meal to guide runners throughout the day: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Fuel-Up (Pre-run, Mid-run, and Post-run selections), Snacks & Sips and Desserts.

I actually had the opportunity to connect with Runner’s World’s Food and Nutrition Editor, Heather Mayer Irvine, who edits all food and nutrition content across print and Web. She knew all about the findings from this list and shared a few quick and easy breakfasts to make with these packaged foods. Read on to see what she came up with!

QUICK IN THE BLENDER SMOOTHIE: This low-prep time option gives you the balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and probiotics for a great post-run breakfast. 

 

FIBER AND PROTEIN PACKED PB&J ENGLISH MUFFINS: Start your morning off right with a boost of fiber and protein. Aim for options with less than 300 mg of sodium and at least three grams of fiber. The flax English muffins – with sprouted whole gains – and chia seeds are both high in fiber, and the chia seeds also have a dose of healthy fat. 

 

THE SUPER BOWL OF OVERNIGHT OATS: Prep this one the night before to wake up to a heart-healthy breakfast.

Note: Heather doesn’t recommend exact measurements. Instead, she says she believes in including amounts to individual preference (e.g. add more berries if you want extra flavor/antioxidants) or more nuts for protein!

Question of the Day

What’s your favorite on-the-go breakfast?

Just a quick note: I am sometimes compensated through my affiliate links in this post, but, as always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting CNC!

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Sugar’s Day Is Done? A Review of Gary Taubes’ Latest Treatise, The Case Against Sugar

unhealthy white sugar on wooden background conceptIn 2002, Gary Taubes penned a New York Times piece that questioned the legitimacy of the presiding low-fat dogma. His article made a persuasive case for the safety—and metabolic urgency—of eating more animal fat and fewer carbs. It shifted the national conversation on healthy eating and paved the way for the rise of the ancestral health community. If the experts were that wrong about a healthy diet, what else were they getting wrong?

He expounded the arguments in the Times piece in his next two books, Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat. The first, which utterly demolished the conventional wisdom about saturated fat, was deeply influential for me.

In this latest book, The Case Against Sugar, Taubes lays out a convincing case for sugar as the primary cause of obesity, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases “of civilization.”

Many Taubes critics make a mistake. They take him too literally, quibbling on details while missing the big picture: The way he recommends people eat helps them lose weight. It just works.

When he blames the governmental push against saturated fat and cholesterol for their purported crimes against the heart and waistline, he’s not saying the USDA literally said sugar was fantastic to eat (although bureaucrats did recommend “hard candy, gum drops, sugar, syrup, honey, jam, jelly, marmalade” and other high-sugar foods as good low-fat snack options). He’s saying that the full-throated demonization of fat overshadowed everything else they were saying, and that their advice against eating too much sugar was tepid and ineffectual. The result was that average people focused on avoiding fat and cholesterol. What’s left over after fat and cholesterol and all the wonderful foods that contain both nutrients have been removed from the diet? Carbs. Protein is mostly out because it often comes attached with fat. Even eggs have that little poisonous nucleus lurking inside.

And to make low-fat foods palatable, what do you add? Sugar.

The Case Against Sugar will leave you white-knuckled in frustration at the egregious mistakes (honest or not) the powers-that-be made along the way.

  • The collusion between the sugar industry and scientists to bury the research indicting sugar and push the now-discredited attacks on animal fat.
  • How when high-fructose corn syrup was shown to cause lower blood glucose spikes than pure glucose, scientists approved its use for diabetics—ignoring that it was only because the fructose goes straight to the liver for processing that it evades the rise in blood sugar.
  • The widespread implication on the part of the food industry that high fructose corn syrup wasn’t even sugar. After all, it was made of corn, it had more of that diabetic-friendly molecule known as fructose. Hell, it was practically a vegetable! It’s hard to remember since these days HFCS is rightly vilified. Back then, people really didn’t know better, and the industry capitalized on this ignorance.

I’m sympathetic to the argument that Taubes has overlooked some other factors. I’d argue that sugar isn’t the only issue, but I’d agree that it’s one of the primary ones. He isn’t setting out to write an MDA post that considers such arcane influences on health as blue light at night, PUFA-laden vegetable oils, and job-related stress. But not everyone needs that. If your grandma reads it on a whim and stops drinking those two Dr. Peppers each day, she’ll probably extend her life. If your dad reads it and becomes an anti-sugar zealot, he’ll probably drop a few notches on the belt and impress his doctor. Maybe they’re losing weight and improving their health for additional reasons other than Taubes lays out in his book. But does it matter if it works?

Taubes even acknowledges the shortcomings of the book and his argument. He relies mainly on animal trials and observational studies of humans because, well, those are all that’s available. The kind of randomized controlled trial on sugar intake he’d like to see performed in humans doesn’t really exist. It arguably can’t exist.

As Dr. Eades explains, it’d take a truly revolutionary team of researchers with a ton of money at their disposal to do the “definitive” (if such a thing exists) study on sugar and obesity/diabetes/etc:

To truly nail this down, scientists would have to randomize people into two groups, the subjects in one of which would be expected to eat 100 pounds of sugar per year, while the subjects in the other group would eat almost no sugar (or a significantly lesser amount). The study would have to last for years to realize a significant outcome. Ethical issues aside, a study like this would be enormously expensive and would be impossible to accurately monitor. It’s one thing to randomize people into a study and have them not eat sugar for a month or six weeks – it’s entirely another to get them to forsake it or gorge on it for six years (or however long it would take for meaningful data to emerge).

Maybe when we hit the Singularity and possess the capability to generate virtual universes indistinguishable from the real thing, we’ll be able to run one of these studies to completion. Probably from an iPhone app.

So when a critic points out that obesity rates have progressed despite average sugar intake dropping, it might be that enough folks are still eating over a hundred pounds. But that’s the average. Some people, like you or me, eat less than a pound of sugar in a year. To hit the national average, that means other people are eating well over a hundred pounds each—and they’re probably the ones getting sick, fat, and diabetic.

As Taubes himself concludes, we don’t know whether sugar is the primary cause of metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, and all the other trappings of civilization. We can’t know for sure. But sugar is a strong candidate. It performs no essential physiological role, and when people do give it up good things happen to their health.

This case against sugar is a strong one, with lots of circumstantial evidence pointing toward it as a major culprit. A jury might not convict. But this isn’t a courtroom. Luckily for the individual, we don’t have to give sugar the benefit of the doubt. We’re allowed to presume guilt.

Go out and grab a copy of the book. It’s a good one that will only improve public health.

Did anyone else read The Case Against Sugar? What did you think?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

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My Review of Wired to Eat: And One Important Word for Your Training

Written By: Kevin Cann

I was lucky enough to get an early copy of Robb’s new book, “Wired to Eat.” Robb’s first book, “The Paleo Solution” was a fantastic resource. At one point I had all of my clients read it when they came into my gym. I do not do as much nutritional counseling as I used to, as my role has changed. However, I still recommend the guidelines laid out in the first book when clients ask me for nutritional advice.

As good as the first book was, there were some shortcomings. People became cultish over what was considered paleo and what wasn’t. Everyone tolerated carbohydrates differently, even with the same exercise program, and some people swore they felt fine when they ate rice or beans. On top of those issues, the paleo diet can tend to be very restrictive depending on the source you follow.

Robb’s new book addresses these issues. My favorite chapter of the book was “Personalized Nutrition.” Robb discusses a research study that looked at how 800 people responded to carbohydrates. This may come as no surprise to most, but there was a lot of individuality in the responses. Some people even responded better to a cookie than a banana.

As a coach, guessing someone’s carbohydrate intake has always been a crapshoot. I have always recommended women start at 100g-125g/ day and men 150g-175g/day. However, these numbers were always a guess because we did not know how each person was responding to the carbohydrates that they were getting.

Robb’s recommendation of a 7 day carb test using a glucometer is genius. This can help pinpoint how much of a given carbohydrate a person can tolerate. It also will give them a good picture of their insulin sensitivity.

The carb test also allows more flexibility for the individual. It allows you to test non-traditional “paleo” foods to see how you respond. If you tolerate beans well, you can keep them in your diet. I think this is extremely important for sustainability.

This brings me to my next topic. I have been having many conversations with strength athletes lately, and these conversations even apply to those of you that are going to follow the directions that Robb lays out.

When we are discussing our strength programs or undertaking a healthier lifestyle, there is one word that cannot be overemphasized. That word is patience. We live in a world where we are always looking for fast answers and fast success. This is not the best way to go about these programs.

I was having a conversation with one of my strength athletes when we were performing deadlifts off of blocks. The block height is one that puts the bar at the sticking point for raw lifters below the knees. We worked up to 4 sets of 2 at 85%. This weight was extremely easy and she had asked if she could go up in weight.

I said no, we will stay here. The following week we increase the deadlift off blocks to 85% for 2 sets of 2 followed by 3 sets of 1 at 90%. The week after this increases to 85% 2 sets of 2 and 90% for 3 sets of 2. This position in the pull puts the most pressure on our muscles to lift the weight. That is why it is a weak spot of the lift.

I explained this to the lifter and told them that I want them to build up that tissue, in that position, over time. Why would we rush it? Rushing it can only lead to injury. Embrace and enjoy the process of getting stronger safely. A major part of success in the strength sports is attrition.

This applies to those taking up the Wired to Eat program. Don’t expect overnight results. Stick with the program for the 30 days. Robb recommends throwing away the scale and I could not agree more. Check the results after 30 days, but keep in mind that a healthy lifestyle does not end there.

30 days is enough time to see some positive changes that can be rewarding and motivating, but that is just scratching the surface. Follow it for longer, and better results will follow. Understand the consequences of eating certain foods and try to make the best choices. If your grandmother is turning 100 years old and has cake, eat a damn piece of cake. The more good choices that you make in terms of, what Robb calls the 4 pillars of health: nutrition, exercise, sleep, and community, the healthier and happier you will be.

Set short and long term goals for yourself. Don’t just try to get through the 30 days. Do the 30 days as a start to making healthier lifestyle choices. If you are a strength athlete or Crossfit competitor, embrace the process and stay patient. The elite athletes in any sport have put many years towards being elite. It is rare that it just happens overnight.

If you haven’t ordered your copy of “Wired to Eat” yet, I highly recommend that you do. It is very different from other nutritional books out there. It contains information that no other book I have ever read contains. Remember this is not a 30 day challenge and then back to neglecting your health. This is a starting point to making better health decisions. And remember to stay patient and embrace the process in all of that you take part in.



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Not A Snow Day

We woke up to a very minor dusting of snow yesterday morning and, despite the fact that the roads were totally clear, school was cancelled. Hip hip hooray. (Don’t let the computer screen cloud my sarcasm!)

For breakfast I had the BEST overnight oats! I added a swirl of peanut butter INTO the oats the night before rather than on top, and it was so peanutty good! I also used quick oats instead of rolled, and I think they get such a great texture. Raspberries embedded throughout.

Mazen and I went to the gym mid-morning, where I did a workout and he socialized with his friends who all had the same idea. I hit up the elliptical, the sauna and the shower, and then we set off to have lunch with Matt.

Since Mazen usually eats lunch at school, he doesn’t get many opportunities to visit Matt at Ivy Provisions during the day for lunch, so this was a good day to go. Mazen got a tour of the walk in fridge, which he loved. He reported, “My daddy is the boss of the sandwich shop!” on the ride home.

He had a grilled cheese and kale salad (one of the few veggies he likes!), and I had the Superfoods salad with chicken on top. Needed to combine something cold with something warm!

Also, it was my first time having this flavor – very good!

After lunch we went to the mall for an indoor activity. First stop: the merry-go-round.

Followed by a haircut!

And then a little shopping.

These are not my favorite shoes, but I couldn’t resist because Mazen went ga-ga for them! They light up!

We stopped by Whole Foods for some dinner ingredients for tomorrow, and then we headed home where I had a warm mug of tea.

We invited the neighbors over to watch Moana in our basement after they raced laps on their bikes for a while. We all shared some Boom Chicka Pop – love that stuff!! They made a huge couch fort too.

Dinner was that awesome Blue Apron meatloaf with crispy potatoes and a kale salad. Loved this!!!

 

Did you guys watch The Bachelor on Monday?! Thoughts? It ended exactly the way I thought it would.

Also: who watches Nashville!!??? I am dying to discuss the latest plot events with someone who watches the show. I sobbed when I watched the last two episodes.

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Everyday Sweet Potato + Kale Hash

Heyyyyyy!

So, here’s that Sweet Potato + Kale Hash recipe that I mentioned yesterday. And, guys, it’s FOR SURE a new staple in our house. It’s easy, delicious, nutritious, and totally customizeable to your taste preferences… even what’s in your fridge, which is how this recipe actually came about.

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You guys remember my obsession with not wasting food, right? Well, my fridge had a half bunch of kale on its last legs as well as some ground turkey getting close to its “best by” date… and Qman has quite the affinity for spiralizing, so you see where I’m going with this?? Long story short, the recipe was a match made in heaven, and it came together quickly and effortlessly, and now it’s a new favorite in our house!

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My favorite way to eat this hash is mixed with scrambled eggs for breakfast, but it’s sooooo incredibly versatile, which is why we’ve made it so many times in recent weeks. Seriously, the options are endless. You could totally eat it on its own… with a little hot sauce, perhaps? Or crumbled feta? Or…

  • mixed with rice or quinoa
  • rolled into a wrap
  • stuffed in side a pita pocket
  • as a homemade pizza topping – just add cheese!
  • tossed with black beans and salsa
  • as a filling for stuffed peppers

I feel like I could go on and on, but you get the idea! 😉 You can really get creative with this hash and totally make it your own. It also reheats really well, so I just make a big batch on prep day and reheat throughout the week. I hope you love this recipe as much as we do and find that it becomes a staple in your house, too!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Italian ground turkey (or sausage or chicken)
  • 1 medium sweet potato (~185g), spiralized and chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • seasoning of choice (I added about 2 tbsp of the Everyday seasoning from Trader Joe’s– hence the recipe name– and it was deeeelicious!)

Directions:

  1. Spiralize the sweet potato and set aside. If you prefer, chop the sweet potato noodles into smaller pieces. Mal thought this was more “hash-like,” but I liked the noodles. It’s totally a personal preference.
  2. Add the ground meat and onions to a large pan on the stove top, breaking up the meat as it browns. Add seasoning of choice, if desired. I actually like using the Italian-flavored ground meat because it adds a little flavor, but I can still jazz it up in my own way depending on the meal.
  3. When the onions are soft and the meat is just about finished cooking, add the chopped kale. Heat the kale until it is soft and wilted.
  4. Finally, add the sweet potato noodles and cook until semi-soft. If your spirzalizer makes thin noodles, just transfer the meat mixture to a large mixing bowl with the noodles and allow the heat to soften them.
  5. Serve immediately!

Makes 6 servings

Macros: P 20 C 8 F 5

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