Sunday, July 31, 2011

For All the Ladies: Working Out & Best Foods while on your Menstrual Cycle!

Per request, I have been asked what the best foods/ exercises are best  while on your period. (Sorry guys, this one's not for you!).

  First off, unless you are anemic, there is no reason to skip workouts while on that time of the month. It's proven that staying active through that 2-7 days will help shorten your period, lessen the uncomfortable effects of bloating, cramps, etc., and that is a good thing! When I'm very active mine only lasts 2 days, which is a miracle in itself! Now when it comes to food while working out during your menstrual cycle, the same applies for regular activity. Carbohydrates a couple hours before a workout, and protein along with carbs within an hour after a workout. Lean proteins such as chicken breast and turkey can provide iron to make up for the iron stores you lose during this time of the month, not to mention aid in the repairs of any damaged tissues that may or may not have occurred during a workout.

  However, there are certain foods you can eat while ON your period (non-exercise related) that can improve those nasty symptoms that we all know and hate. If you're on birth control pills, usually those symptoms will be less than someone who is not on the pill. But whether you are or not, here are some foods that can be beneficial while on your period:

High-fiber foods: Whether it be fiber bars, cereal, or more natural sources such as broccoli, beans and peas, all are good sources of fiber. Why would fiber help during your period? Although this may sound gross, high fiber-foods create bulkier stools which will contain a higher water content so that extra bloat won't exist, or be very minimal. I know that's probably everybody's worst symptom, not being able to button up those skinny jeans for a few days!

Foods high in B-vitamins: Foods high in B-vitamins such as legumes, can aid in energy (to help carry out with your workouts), decrease the fatigue, and menstrual cramps.

Dark greens: Things like Spinach, collard greens, and other leafy greens that are high in calcium, magnesium, and potassium lead to the decrease in the body's ability to spasm, preventing excessive cramps. These minerals may also decrease mood swings and help with stress levels.

Foods rich in Vitamin K: Vitamin K assists in blood coagulation, so if you increase dark green veggies or other foods rich in Vitamin K, you will bleed less and be a lot more comfortable.

Water: Although it may seem contradicting to drink a lot of water because of fluid retention, it will in-fact not only keep you hydrated, but help flush out your system of the excess fluid (along with the fiber rule).

Electrolyte-Enhanced drinks: Thinks like gatorade, smart water, Zico coconut water (my new obsession!) are all rich in these vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes that will reduce your miserable symptoms.

Omega 3-Fatty acids: Including olive oil and nuts that are rich with your Omega 3s can also reduce muscle spasms and reduce cramping as well.

Magical Period Fruit? PINEAPPLE! Why? Because it is high in Manganese. A study shows that women that do not include a diet rich in Manganese can have up to a 50% heavier menstrual flow than women that do. Pineapple also contains high levels of bromelain, an enzyme thought to help relax muscles and therefore prevent menstrual cramping.

Hope this information can be useful to all the women out there! Please feel free to ask questions or leave feedback!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

hCG Diet- What is it and Why is it SO DANGEROUS?

I apologize for not blogging anymore, but 17 units in school, wedding planning, and getting ready to start the dietetics program is overwhelming!
I had a request for a topic on the hCG diet, so here goes!
From surgical fixes such as lap band and gastric bypass to crazy "quick weight loss" diets, these methods have always been something I'm opposed to. Fad-diets such as Atkins (low-carb, high protein), low-fat, no sugar, gluten-free, they make me want to scream! The most recent fad-diet that is gaining a lot of attention is called the "hCG diet", and it makes me sick to my stomach. It should be called the "voluntarily anorexic" diet, and that's putting it nicely. Featured on Doctor Oz, the hCG diet is slowly, but surely being exposed for what it really is, DANGEROUS.
So you may be asking, what exactly does this "diet" entail? What is HCG? Why is it so bad? Well that's why I'm here, everyone, to answer your questions and concerns regarding this ridiculous fad. 
First of all, hCG is a hormone, scientifically defined as Human Chorionic Gonadotropin.
It is a natural accruing protein hormone that develops in the placenta during the first trimester of pregnancy shortly after conception. There is the old way of using it in injection form, and today an oral form also exists. 
This protein hormone is considered a peptide. Peptides are a class of hormone that are secreted into the blood stream and aide in endocrine function. SO how can a hormone that is the means of measuring pregnancy in women able to assist in weight loss and "curing obesity"? It is the hormone that has been studied to have an effect of jump-starting the hypothalamus and tells your body to breakdown body fat, keep lean muscle, and assist in keeping muscles intact and not depleted while restricting your calories.
People have found great results, meaning super FAST [which by now you know means UNHEALTHY] weight loss. It has NOTHING to do with the hormone itself. It has to do with the fact that the main part of the "diet" is restricting your calories to less than half of which should be consumed in a day at MAXIMUM weight loss of 2lbs/week (1200 calories per day). The guidelines to this diet are to consume between 500-800 calories a day along with taking in this hormone, and viola! You have lost insane amounts of weight! 
FYI: ANYBODY that consumes 500-800 calories a day is going to lose weight, fast. This hormone is not promoting weight-loss, but instead, trying to make such an unhealthy amount of calories consumed LESS detrimental to your body but preventing muscle-wasting, a common symptom of starvation. Just because it supposedly promotes the holding on of lean muscle, doesn't mean it is preventing your organs from failing, your brain activity from declining, and your body from starving itself thin. 
The hormone is also said to lower your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), but if your body is literally eating it's own muscle, tissues and organs, what does your RMR really matter anyway?

Bottom line, this is one of the most pathetic fad diets I have seen. It is nothing more than a starvation diet that makes you think you are starving yourself in a healthy way. HCG does not promote healthy weight loss, and eating less than 1200 calories a day for females (1800 for males), can be very detrimental to the primary functions of your body. Claiming to get the extra calories your body needs from abnormal and excess fat from your body is BULL. Although the rounds are usually for only a few weeks at a time, this doesn't excuse it from being extremely unhealthy. And recurring the process on a regular basis can permanently damage your body. It takes time to put weight on, it takes time to take it off. The faster you lose it, the faster it will come back. Be smart about weight loss, don't exceed 2lbs a week, don't eat less than 1200 calories a day, and don't give in to crazy quick fixes! 

Have a Healthy Week!

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

PREGNANCY- Healthy Eating during pregnancy, NOT "Eating for Two".

Although I can't say I've been pregnant and gone through the whole "craving" thing, there is a line that shouldn't be crossed during pregnancy. Many women in fact do use being pregnant as an excuse to overeat and over indulge in almost anything and everything, when in fact, you are doing more harm than good to your body. I promise that if you are planning on becoming pregnant or are pregnant now, your post-baby body will thank me if you follow the healthy guidelines to eating right during pregnancy!
There is an extra allowance of calories during each trimester of pregnancy, but empty calories and an entire big mac + fries is NOT the way to go, especially on a regular basis. 
For the extra calories you're allotted (don't worry we'll get to exact numbers soon) during pregnancy, you want to go with foods that are nutrient rich and offer healthy benefits to you AND your developing baby. Calcium is crucial to help with the formation of bones and tissue throughout fetal development. Folic acid is also very important (is in many breads and whole grain foods such as lentils, tortillas, pasta, as well as spinach, etc.), it prevents spina bifida, miscarriages, and birth defects. You can also take a prenatal vitamin to assist in getting your essential vitamins and nutrients while pregnant if you are worried you may not get adequate amounts from your food. Empty calories, refined sugars, high-saturated fatty foods are not the way to go when pregnant. These will pack on way more pounds than necessary when pregnant, without offering nutritional value, and the more weight you gain, the more weight you will need to lose after your little one is born, and it can be a struggle, especially when you don't have a lot of time to work out. The whole "baby fat excuse" isn't valid after 9 months. They say this because it takes 9 months to put it on, it should only take 9 months to get it off. But the harder and longer it will take the more unhealthy food you eat during your pregnancy.
Let's talk about numbers. The expression "well, I'm eating for two" is not a reality, people. If you were eating for two you would be eating close to 4,000 calories a day, and and at that rate you would be putting on about 5lbs a week, and we all know that's nonsense. The average, normal weight, woman doesn't need to change their caloric intake during the first trimester (an extra 100 calories/day is acceptable), and only needs about 300 extra calories a day during the last 6 months of their pregnancy. If you are underweight, overweight or have preexisting health conditions when you become pregnant, you should definitely consult your physician on what an appropriate diet plan would be throughout your pregnancy. 300 calories is really not much when you think about it, 3 oreos and an 8 oz glass of milk is 300 calories. 1 piece of fruit and a slice of toast. A bagel with cream cheese. A nice big salad. NOT a double-double, french fries, and chocolate shake, which totals about 1800 calories in itself. The occasional shake, ice cream, french fries, will not hurt you if in moderation (just as if you were not pregnant), but on a daily basis, needs to be avoided, not only for your health and weight, but for your baby. Scientific research proposes that mothers who eat an unhealthy diet while pregnant, the babies are at a higher risk for long term health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. One reason gestational diabetes (diabetes of the mother while pregnant) is so high is because the amount of sugar of the unhealthy foods they are consuming can't keep up with the amount of insulin being produced by the body. So many factors, it seems complicated, but it's really not. 
Light exercise can also be maintained during pregnancy, if ok'd by your doctor. Normally women can perform light physical activity, walking, gym, etc., through their second trimester, if they are not a high-risk pregnancy. But your doctor knows what's best for you, but doing NOTHING while pregnant will not only get you out of the notion, but make it more difficult for your body to bounce back after your little one is delivered.
Bottom line, being pregnant is not an excuse to overeat and "eat for two". 300 calories extra per day is acceptable during your second and third trimester and you should try to make these 300 calories nutrient-rich, rather than icky foods that are high in saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, and refined sugars. Include a daily prenatal vitamin (make sure your doctor agrees) to assure that you are getting adequate amounts of folic acid and other vitamins and minerals that are essential to fetal growth and development. Love your body, and your baby. The average, healthy, amount of weight to gain while pregnant if you are normal and healthy-weight woman is between 25-35 pounds. If you are underweight, 27-40 pounds, and if you are overweight 15-25 pounds. Obese women should consult a physician but attempt to not exceed 15 pounds of gestational weight gain. 
Pregnancy is not an excuse to eat whatever, whenever you want. It is about maintaing a healthy lifestyle for you and your baby. The more unnecessary weight you gain during pregnancy, the harder and longer the process to take it off. Some women never do get back to the pre-baby weight, and blame it on children, but if most would have maintained a healthy diet and exercised regularly ( as instructed by a doctor), would have lost the weight in no time at all. Be aware!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Best foods/drinks before, during, & after exercise!! Treat your body right!

There are a ton of myths surrounding the best way to take care of your body before, during, and after exercise. Supplements are not the way to go, and although they make promises of extra fat burn, reduced appetite, increased energy, protein, etc., they are nothing but money-making gimics and scams designed to make YOU, the consumer, pay extra, unecessary money for something your body can get better sources of from the normal food we eat. When it comes to food, we all know that our bodies need a little bit of everything for normal function and activity. Depriving yourself completely of any one substance, such as carbohydrates, fats, protein, & sugar will have negative effects on your body, especially when it comes to energy expenditure, also known as exercise. On the other hand, we know that too much of any of these can also have negative and unhealthy effects on the body as well.
Before exercise: Let's start with the primary source of fuel of your muscles, which as most of you know is carbohydrates. You've probably all heard of "carb loading" which is term that refers to eating large amounts of carbohydrates in the days leading to a marathon or long  competitive event by an athlete. Most people are not doing long endurance-like marathons and do not need excessive amounts of carbohydrates. Too many carbohydrates can also cause gastrointestinal distress, such as bloating, diarrhea, gas, and nausea. Carbohydrates are stored in your muscles as glycogen in the days prior to exercise, which is one reason a POST-exercise meal is so important to not only replace this, but prepare the body for it's next workout.
So when do you eat the carbohydrates? Working out on a full stomach is never a smart idea. Not only will it probably slow you down, it has the potential to make you sick (nausea, vomiting, & cramping). You should let the meal you have before your workout fully digest before you begin your exercise. A meal usually digests in about 4 hours. (Less or more depending on how much you've eaten, and how bulky). If you work out early in the morning, it is a good idea to wake up early to have time for your body to digest it's meal, OR have something small to eat or drink that can be easily digested about a half hour before you're due to hit the gym.
Glucose, which is the primary component of carbohydrates, is the primary energy source. So your before-workout meal that you have a few hours before should consist of easily digestible carbs such as pastas, bread, fruits, and granola bars.
During exercise: The key focus is staying hydrated. But there is such a thing as being too hydrated, which often causes low sodium levels, known as hyponatremia, which CAN be fatal. In an average 30-60 minute workout a normal 16.9oz bottle of water should be sufficient, but if you are thirstier, that is your body telling you it needs more. Even if you don't feel thirst, it is important to maintain adequate fluids. Nothing compares to real water, but drinks such as gatorade, vitamin water, and other electrolyte-enhanced waters can be beneficial during periods of rapid sweat-loss (which can lead to electrolyte imbalance).
After exercise: After your workout, you should eat pretty shortly after.  This is the most important meal of the day for active people. Amino acids (the building blocks of protein-used for making muscles, bone, hormones, etc.) AND carbohydrates are essential post-workout. A good protein is whey protein, but for the average person, we don't have the time or money to make or buy a whey protein shake. Other good sources of protein would be lean chicken, beans, egg whites, fish, soy, & cheese. Protein is essential after workouts because it helps feed and repair any damaged or depleted tissues. The average person should consume about 0.15 to 0.25 g of protein PER pound of body weight. Carbohydrates (and as you can see by reading this, are NOT the devil as seen by many people) are essential not only before your workout, but after. Good and healthy sources of carbohydrates for after your exercise would be brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread or fruit juice. Within two hours of work out, 0.3 to 0.6 grams per pound of body weight of carbohydrate is essential to building adequate glycogen stores for your next workout.
Hope this helps all you active people out there! And if you're not active, start, at least it's an excuse to have some extra carbs! :)

Have a Healthy Day! <3

Sunday, January 2, 2011

NO Excuses for being overweight, plain and simple..

Many people might disagree with this post and/or get mad at my view, but I am trying to spread the word on how not only dangerous obesity is, but how it is preventable, almost 95% of the time. In that 5% lie incurable hormone imbalances, medications, and very few diseases that ACTUALLY cause weight gain. If you are in this 5% and have been medically told that it is going to be virtually impossible for you to lose weight with diet and exercise, then this topic isn't for you. For the other 95%, please be aware that by me being blunt, I only want to help and make you aware that you have the potential to live a healthier life.
Often times I get the excuse, and debate (even by people that are NOT overweight), that overweight people have an addiction to food, no different than drugs or alcohol. There ARE eating disorders, such as compulsive over eating and binge eating disorder that are psychological disorders characterized by uncontrollable emotional eating BUT what people don't understand is that even if these people are over eating out of emotional distress (which they SHOULD be seeing a therapist and/or seeking professional psychiatric/medical help to work on the issue) there is still 100% NO EXCUSE on why these people can't exercise. Even if you over-eat emotionally, there is nothing emotionally disturbed about the ability to get off the couch and go for a walk/jog, join a gym/etc. I say this as encouragement, that you are not a hopeless cause, and even if you feel like this, there is hope of a healthier life and light at the end of the tunnel with eating less and expending more energy (exercise). But a majority of overweight people don't have a psychological illness, but a desire to eat crap and not be physically active. I say this so forwardly, because I believe that if somebody who has a weight issue reads this, it may open their eyes to the unhealthy way they are living their lives. As you've seen in my blogs over and over again, there are excuses for days on why people can't eat healthier or can't exercise. These excuses are just that, EXCUSES. The average fast food meal costs between $7-8, whereas a pre-made salad at a fast food chain or grocecy store or subway sandwich averages about $3-5. No excuse there. Next, the "I don't have time to work out". If you just walk or exercise for 30 minutes a day, that is 1/48th of your day. I am a full time student, work part time, have my own business starting on the side, have CHRONIC back pain from a serious injury, and still don't make excuses. We are not talking about getting stick thin, but reaching a healthy weight, within normal BMI (get your BMI here) and reducing/reversing the risks and effects of heart disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes caused by weight gain. And by the way, no matter what your weight, it is always healthy to exercise at least 30-60 minutes 4-5x a week when healthy enough to do so)
You have no idea how many times I get "well what do you know about being overweight, you've never been fat"...well I do know that if I LET myself eat everything in sight and sit on my butt all day, I would have the potential for being over weight too. My biggest pet peeve is someone who constantly complains over and over again about needing to lose weight or exercise more or eat healthier and never taking a single step to accomplish these goals. You are not alone. There is more hope for you than you can imagine, but just like an alcoholic or drug addict, you have to not only WANT it, you have to be willing to take the steps. The "I'll start tomorrow" doesn't work, and tomorrow will never come. Someone once told me, "you can start your day over at any time". Apply this to food, exercise, and a healthier life. It's officially a New Year. Set goals for yourself, start small, the gradually increase them. From losing weight to eating more fruits and veggies, to exercise you CAN do it, and don't let yourself or anyone else tell you that you can't.

<3 Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!