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!