Simple Solutions for your Morning Workout Recovery

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I know, I know. Your workouts are crammed into your already hectic life. You have finally mastered the art of getting to bed early so that you can rise with the sun and squeeze in your daily workout. But once you finish, you don’t have time to prepare an elaborate breakfast; you have to shower, shave, dress, and look your best for the day ahead!

But listen to me, after a workout, your muscles are damaged and depleted. In order to build the strength that you are seeking, you need to feed those depleted muscles with glycogen. The best way to do this is to consume a breakfast that has a 2:1 carb to protein ratio. An ideal amount of protein is 10-18 grams. This will shuttle plenty of glycogen to your muscles and energize you for the day!

I hear ya! You don’t have time to calculate these numbers AND eat on top of it. That’s what you have me for! Here are my top-3, quick and easy breakfasts for workout recovery (and they’re a great way to start your day even if you don’t work out in the morning)

#1: Almond butter on whole grain toast with two types of fruit

A banana is one of my top choices and then for the second type of fruit, I usually choose something seasonal. In summer, berries are my favorite. Make sure your bread’s first ingredient is whole ground wheat or sprouted wheat; if it simply says wheat flour, it is not truly whole grain! And spread on that almond butter generously—think two tablespoons…that’s some yummy fiber, protein, and healthy fats for you!

#2: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup granola and a handful of fruit        

Nothing beats Greek yogurt with granola and blueberries! Watch out for sugar in both the yogurt and granola. I usually buy plain Greek yogurt to minimize the sugar and there are plenty of granola varieties with less than 10 grams of sugar. Muesli is a good option instead of granola as well.

#3: A Succulent smoothie

Mix 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup of frozen berries and a scoop of chocolate whey protein powder.

If you’re like me, you may not like messing with a blender in the morning, so make your smoothie the night before and store it in a mason jar of smoothie shaker cup and you can even have it on the go the next morning.

What’s the best part about these three recovery breakfast options? You can use mix and match the fruits to come up with entirely different choices every day

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

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Hey Athletes, Don’t Fear Fat

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I can’t even count how often I hear athletes discuss ways to reduce fat in their diet. I am here to debunk the myth that fat in your diet will make you fat. In fact, the opposite is true—fat can make you stronger, leaner, more alert, and a better overall performer. Fat is your friend, not your enemy!

This does not give you free reign to go eat a bacon cheeseburger every day. Let me discuss the fats you should welcome into your diet daily!

Let’s start by discussing omega-3 essential fatty acids; these are found primarily in fish like salmon and tuna. They are also found in walnuts and flaxseed. Study after study has proven that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation to the point of helping to prevent chronic conditions like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and even some forms of cancer. They also help with cognition—some studies have even proven that they delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. What does this mean for you as an athlete? It means that omega-3s will help you be more alert on the field and will also help you to recover quickly and be on your best-game more often.

In addition to omega-3 fats, I highly encourage you to incorporate dairy into your diet. I have heard of athletes avoiding dairy because of the fat content, but truly, dairy is so awesome for you to include in your day-to-day life and right after your workouts.

One dairy product I encourage you to consume every day is yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt is the best because it is high in protein and doesn’t have a lot of added sugars like many yogurts on the market. The probiotics in yogurt help increase the healthy bacteria in your gut, which optimizes your digestion. You need optimal digestion in order to absorb the antioxidants that help you recover from tough workouts. Athletes need more nutrients than the average person and these needs are best met with optimal digestion. Go for yogurt every day!

Dairy is excellent for your recovery as well. Milk will rehydrate you after a workout—did you know that it is 90 percent water AND it has electrolytes? Milk is an excellent source of carbohydrates, which replenishes the glycogen that your muscles lose during a workout. Milk is also a great source of protein, which helps your muscles to recover. Studies show that milk may help reduce muscle damage and improve muscle recovery, which can help you perform better during your next workout.

Personally, I am a strong proponent of chocolate milk for a post-workout drink—it has that perfect ratio of 3 to 4 grams of carbohydrate for every gram of protein. This is the ratio you want for optimal recovery.

Eat your fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and the healthy fats I described here and you will come out a winner on the field, court, pool, or track!

 

 

Easy Go-Tos for Recovery after your Kids’ High-Intensity Sports Practice

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Fall sports are upon us! How do we get our kids to recover from intense practice and games? Even as the weather gets colder, hydration before and throughout the practice or game is paramount. Just as important is getting some high-quality protein in your diet and a colorful array of fruits and veggies for their antioxidant value. Protein builds lean muscle, helps with recovery, and improves strength and performance. Antioxidants help prevent inflammation, reducing the likelihood of injuries!

Here are some go-tos that I suggest parents pack for their kids to have after their sports practices and games; these are especially handy for away games when the food stop on the way home almost always is fast-food.

Protein Suggestions:

  • Make a yummy trail mix of raw nuts and dried fruit (a big favorite I find is raw almonds, cashews and raisins)
  • Another all-time favorite is banana and peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • A super easy protein-packed protein option is EAS’s 100% whey protein shakes. They’re pre-made and so easy to take with you. Each one contains a whopping 30 grams of protein. Whey protein is awesome because it is digested and absorbed faster than any other protein source.

Antioxidant Suggestions I especially recommend for Athletes:

  • Red and green bell peppers with hummus
  • Apples
  • Blueberries (they’re so tasty frozen too—keep them frozen using an insolate lunch bag with an ice pack)
  • Edamame (soybeans that you have to pop out of their pods…kids love the opportunity to “play with their food,” even teenagers love it!
  • Cherries

Find a way to incorporate these food choices in your kids’ post-practice or game repertoire and they’ll be at the top of their game for sure!

Beat the Heat with Hydration!

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It’s been HOT lately so the topic of hydration couldn’t be any timelier. Hydration is a popular topic in sports nutrition; they need to be concerned that they replenish their electrolytes as so many are lost through sweating.  Hydration is not just important for athletes though; it is important for everyone who gets out in that hot summer sun!  You can become dehydrated by an hour stint of gardening for example.

Did you know that 2/3 of your body weight is water? Water is critical to all the body’s systems, including the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, and muscles. Water is necessary for your body to digest and absorb vitamins and nutrients. It also detoxifies the liver and kidneys, and carries away waste from the body.  A two percent drop in body water can cause a small but critical shrinkage of the brain, which can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration, and slow thinking.

If you are dehydrated, your blood is literally thicker, and your body has to work that much harder to make it circulate more efficiently. As a result, the brain becomes less active, more fatigued, and leads to exhaustion. This is precisely why you feel so tired after a day in the sun, but guess what?!

Water alone is not going to cut it when it comes to preventing dehydration in the summer. You need ELECTROLYTES! Some people think that electrolytes are simply salt, but there are actually seven different electrolytes and they are: sodium (“salt”), chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonate.

I like to have coconut water as my drink of choice when I am out in the sun; it contains a high amount of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium. Some of my favorite hydrating foods are cucumbers, watermelon, broccoli, strawberries, and tomatoes. Your craving for salty foods may increase as you become dehydrated, but don’t reach for chips; instead choose something like GimMe Seaweed Snacks; they’ll fulfill that salty craving; they are so healthy for you, and the bonus is that they are loaded with electrolytes!

So how do you know if you are dehydrated?

Check out your urine! A large amount of light colored, diluted urine probably means you are hydrated; dark colored, concentrated urine probably means you are dehydrated.

You can also use the pinch test! Dehydration often reduces skin elasticity, so doctors often use this skin test to quickly check for dehydration. The best part is that you can do it yourself: Pinch the skin on the back of your hand and pull it upwards. Your skin should snap back rapidly. If your skin maintains its pinched shape for a few seconds and drops slowly, you may be dehydrated.

I beg you to please protect yourself from dehydration all the time, but especially in this heat; the side effects are brutal! You’ll overheat, which feels even hotter than the intense heat that the sun is already emitting! You’ll also want to watch your alcohol and caffeine intake because both are naturally dehydrating.

Have fun in the sun, the healthy way!

 

 

 

 

 

Sports-Mom Summer Essentials

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It’s HOT and your kids have sports games and matches that are INTENSE! How do you keep them safe in this heat and make sure they have enough energy to perform their best? Fear not, it’s quite simple once you get into the habit of prioritizing nutrition. Steer clear of the nutrition bars and sports drinks with a gazillion unpronounceable ingredients and go natural with these suggestions.

Fueling

Most kids love fruit. Fuel them for their sport one to two hours before their game with a delicious smoothie. Combine frozen fruit, almond milk, and Greek yogurt for a totally energizing boost. If you slice very ripe bananas and keep them in the freezer, that’s a way to make smoothies naturally very sweet without having to add sugary juices or other sweeteners.

Make extra of the smoothie and pack some along in mason jars in your cooler for energy boosts during the game or for a recovery drink after the game.

Hydration

Coconut water is a great way to keep your kids hydrated during the game; it has all the electrolytes needed to prevent dehydration. Remember the old Popsicle trick for hydration? Instead of the processed sugar and water combination, bring along frozen grapes or berries— kids love them!

Be sure your child is sipping the coconut water or downing a handful of berries every 10-15 minutes throughout the game!

Recovery

To keep your child energized throughout the match, and to help him or her recover after a tough match, be sure to pack along healthy snacks. I like the nut and fruit combo. Fruit tends to have potassium, an important electrolyte and their natural simple sugars helps to speed glycogen to your kids’ precious muscles, ultimately helping them recover.  Nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fat, both important in recovery.

Try nut butter on an apple or banana. Make your own trail mix with raw nuts and dried fruit.

If you are struggling to find a combination your kids like or simply don’t have the time to throw something together, check out Setton Farms’ Pistachio Chew Bites! These are as natural as you can get!  They’re pistachios, cranberries, and a touch of salt; these ingredients are combined together into a sweet little treat; your kids would never guess how healthy they are! Each serving has six to seven grams of energizing protein; being lightly salted is a good thing for your kids as sodium is an important electrolyte; and they are totally safe (GMO-free and free of chemicals and preservatives).

Try out these tips and cheer as your child hits her home run, scores his goal, or simply tries her best! You can be your daughter or son’s number-one fan and know that you are helping them by giving them a nutritional boost!

Nutrient Timing: The Key to an Effective Workout

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Your busy day at work warranted no time for an afternoon snack before the gym. Midway through your cycling workout, you bonk. You have no energy to continue.

Or, you have to rush to an appointment after a workout session. There is not a minute available to down a post-workout shake. For the rest of the day, you feel unbelievably fatigued.

If you wish to reap benefits from your workouts, you must take your nutrition seriously. The science of nutrient timing suggests that what you eat before, during and after a workout is a critical key not only to achieve performance and strength goals, but also to boost general health.

There are three phases of nutrient timing:

  • The Energy Phase is just before and during a workout.

Consume a snack within the two hours before your workout that contains a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Some great examples include:

  • 1 ½ Tablespoons of almond butter on a piece of whole grain toast
  • 1 sliced apple and 8 ounces of yogurt
  • 1 cup of berries and ¼ cup of walnuts or almonds

During your workout, don’t forget an electrolyte drink like coconut water.

  • The Anabolic Phase is the 45 minutes after a workout.

After you work out, in order to refuel, you have what is referred to as the “anabolic window,” a mere 45 minutes! If you do not take advantage of this window, you will be sore and fatigued. After non-intense workouts, consider a banana or a rice cake with almond butter. For more intense workouts, opt for something with more protein, such as a Kind Bar, a berry smoothie with whey protein, or even an 8-ounce glass of chocolate milk.

  • The Growth Phase is the remainder of the day.

For the remainder of the day, be sure to choose healthy, lean proteins and fats, plenty of fruits vegetables, and some whole grains. Some excellent meal options include:

  • 4-5 ounces of grilled chicken breast with 1 cup of steamed veggies and ½ cup of quinoa
  • 3/4 cup of oatmeal with 1 cup of berries and 1/4 cup of pistachios

Get serious about your workouts—make nutrient timing a priority.