Eating for Events

by Aimee Wojtowecz

Murph is coming! It’s basically our CrossFit marathon and is generally the biggest workout of the year at our gym.

Nutrition is the key component for maximizing athletic performance and overall health! When preparing for a fitness event, planning your nutrition is just as important as planning your workouts leading into the event. If you want to perform your best and optimize your recovery there are a few strategies you might want to consider:

  1. Eat your veggies! And your fruits. Fruits and vegetables are full of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients) that are essential for energy production and aid in blood flow, cell and muscle repair and overall recovery. Eat a high quality, nutrient dense diet. 
  2. Get and stay hydrated. Most of the time plain water will do just fine but sometimes in workouts that are more intense, or a longer duration, or if it’s especially hot & humid, you might need a little more. Try coconut water, a pre-made sports drink (we love O2 Recovery), or an add-in like Nuun or Liquid IV. A loss of sweat equal to 2% of body weight causes a noticeable decrease in physical and mental performance. Losses of 5% or more of body weight during physical activities may decrease the capacity for work by roughly 30%. Post-workout hydration is equally as important to aid in recovery. 
  3. Carb load, but do it smart! There’s a lot of misinformation about carbs. Carb loading the night before is actually a big mistake as it takes time for the body to adjust to a sudden high influx of carbs. Keep your meals balanced in the weeks leading up to the event and make sure to include a serving of carbohydrates at each meal. Quality is key! Two to four hours before the event, have a carbohydrate rich meal or snack. Some ideal combinations include cereal with milk (or premade protein shake: The Fairlife Vanilla one is pretty amazing in Life cereal is all I’m saying); Greek yogurt with fruit and some granola; half a peanut butter sandwich and a banana; oatmeal and protein powder; or an applesauce pouch and a small protein shake. 
  4. Don’t try anything new! The day of your event is not the time to try something new. If you want to experiment with your nutrition try out some options you think you will like before a few regular workouts leading up to the event. You do not want to find out as you arrive that oatmeal makes you feel bloated and sluggish or makes you run to the bathroom. 

PRO TIPS:

  • Maintain a healthy relationship with food! Eating should be both healthful AND enjoyable. 
  • Sleep 7-9 hours a night. 
  • Take a rest day! Your body needs time to reduce stress levels and solid nutrition to accelerate recovery. 
  • Add in relaxation and recovery strategies such as:
    • Rhythmic breathing
    • Stress reduction techniques
    • Yoga
    • Massage therapy
    • Meditation
    • Journaling 

Do you typically think about your workout nutrition? If the answer is no, why not?

3 Ways to Improve your Nutrition Today!

by Aimee Wojtowecz

When it comes to your nutrition, you will always hear us preach about healthy habits that build into long-term sustainable nutrition BUT if you’re looking for something you can do today, as in right now, to help improve your nutrition here are three tips to get you started!

1. ADD Vegetables!

Vegetables should be the cornerstone of your diet (“diet” as in what you eat every day, NOT “diet” as in temporary fix). Current guidelines recommend 5 per day, but as someone with a background in Functional Nutrition the range for optimal health is 9-13 servings a day. If your plate is lacking color, start with just one serving, and when that gets easy add another and another and another. Try all the vegetables, find different ways to prepare them, and different herbs and spices to flavor them. The only bad vegetable is a rotten one. Vegetables provide so many important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients that you just can’t get anywhere else. If you really don’t like vegetables and can’t find a way to get them, add fruit! 

2. ADD Fiber!

Fiber is a type of indigestible carbohydrate and most people don’t get enough of it. In fact most Americans average around 15 grams per day. Ideal intake would be about 25-35 grams per day for women and 35-45 grams per day for men. There are two types of fiber. The first is soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, can help lower glucose levels as well as help lower blood cholesterol. Foods with soluble fiber include oatmeal, chia seeds, nuts, beans, lentils, apples, and blueberries. The other is insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water, can help food move through your digestive system, promoting regularity and helping prevent constipation. Foods with insoluble fibers include whole wheat products (especially wheat bran), quinoa, brown rice, legumes, leafy greens like kale, almonds, walnuts, seeds, and fruits with edible skins like pears and apples. If you increase your fiber intake just make sure you’re drinking plenty of water! 

3. ADD Protein!

Protein is the building block of muscles so if you’re looking for bigger, stronger, faster muscles then you need to be consuming adequate protein. I would recommend 30-40 grams per meal and at least 20 for snacks. Not only does protein contribute to muscle building and recovery but protein is also involved in regulating hormones and enzymes throughout the body. In a pinch, protein can be converted to glucose and be used as an energy source but it’s not very efficient and also means that protein will not be used in the other jobs it’s really needed for. 

What did you notice about these three tips? The common theme here is ADDING to your diet. Adding more nutrients will keep your body working at its best and help you get the most out of your performance in the gym. 

What can you add to your plate today?

Protein Crash Course

by Aimee Wojtowecz

First things first: protein amounts, timing, and distribution can get into intermediate and advanced nutrition coaching! The thing that will benefit the vast majority of us the most is focusing on the basics. But let’s say you’ve got that down and are looking to fine tune a little. Maybe you’ve got questions about how important it is to reach your daily protein consumption? Or how much protein you should consume? Or the best ways to distribute protein among your meals, and how often you should eat it? If that’s the case, then let’s dive in!

What Is The Optimal Daily Protein Intake

The truth is, most people don’t meet their daily protein needs. Why? We’re miseducated on the topic of nutrition. No one is teaching us how to eat healthy and balanced. Sure, somebody out there may tell us that it’s essential, but no one explains why. Some people may even be unaware of the fact that protein is one of the three macronutrients. In fact, protein is the most satiating one (keeps you fuller for longer, #winning!).

But how much do you REALLY need?

If you are an active individual, which we assume you are if you are reading this blog, a good benchmark is 1.8 – 2.2g of protein per kg of bodyweight to achieve your best results. If you are not as active or not doing regular strength training, your body will not require as much protein consumption, so keeping track of it might be unnecessary. However, make sure to consume around 1.2g/kg for maintaining good health.

If you don’t like tracking your nutrition and macros, just aim for 2-3 high-protein meals every day that have quality lean protein sources, such as meat, eggs, dairy products, fish, soy, etc. But how much protein should you consume with every meal? 

Let’s find out. 

Protein Timing and Distribution

Multiple studies on the subject have been conducted over the years. Researchers have tried to find the optimal protein distribution among athletes. One study from 2013 where three different groups took place sheds some light on the subject. The researchers wanted to test the optimal distribution of protein intake 12 hours after resistance training. Every group consisted of 8 males. The first one consumed 8x10g of whey protein every 1.5 hours. The second group consumed 4x20g of whey protein every 3 hours. The last sample took 2x40g every 6 hours.

The result was that the second group, which distributed the protein intake equally, produced maximum anabolic stimulus compared to the other two groups. But just in case you now think that you need to consume 200g of protein a day and eat ten times to spread it out evenly, let’s just pump the brakes a little.

We know that most of you are busy individuals and working out is just a part of your life, not the core of it. Distributing 200 g of protein across 4 meals would also work (200g is just an example, your personal needs will vary). By eating every 3 – 3.5 hours, you will feel satiated throughout the day, and you’ll have plenty of time to do everything else you need to do other than eating. 

Pro Tip: Wait 1 – 1.5 hours after your meal before hitting the gym. You don’t want to feel that snack sloshing around during training! 

Now, let’s talk about protein shakes.

Post Workout Protein Shake – Myth or a Must?

If you are a regular at the gym, you have most certainly seen someone drinking protein shakes immediately after they finished their training session. Since the dawn of the fitness industry, the protein shake has become a must for many athletes. However, what is the logic behind it?

During a heavy workout, our body’s muscle fibers get micro-tears (a.k.a microdamage).. To rebuild those fibers, muscle protein synthesis must take place. The easiest way to get some protein into your digestive system and trigger muscle protein synthesis is a protein shake! Whey protein is in fact one of the protein sources that has the highest biological value (meaning it gets digested quickly, easily and to the biggest extent)

However, there is a big myth among athletes that if they don’t take their post-workout shake in time, they might lose muscle, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The anabolic window is some bro-science, which isn’t backed up by real science. You can miss your post-workout shake and instead eat a balanced meal when you get home, even if it is 1 hour or 1.5 hours after you finished with the workout.

To sum up, it is up to you whether to drink a protein shake or not. They’re easy, portable and quick but also not something that couldn’t be replaced with a regular meal. 

Takeaway Message

  • Protein is the most satiating macronutrient and the one directly responsible for muscle growth.
  • An optimal amount for active individuals would be 1.8 – 2.2g/kg of bodyweight. Here’s a calculator to make that conversion a little easier!
  • Distributing your daily protein intake equally every 3 – 3.5 hours should work best for most people.

As always, if you have other questions, just click here and we can set up a free nutrition consult to get into particulars!

How Important are Micronutrients?

by Aimee Wojtowecz

In today’s world, we are constantly blasted with confusing and oftentimes contradicting information about nutrition. Some people swear by the importance of protein and animal products, while others tell us it’s all about the caloric balance, while yet others tell us to eat nothing but fruit. Now, because fat, protein and carbohydrates are out there stealing the spotlight, there is one aspect of nutrition that is largely ignored…that is the importance of micronutrients, which is the topic of discussion for today!

So without further ado, let’s dive in on micronutrients and discuss what they are, what they do in the body and what some of the best sources are!

Macro VS Micro

So what exactly is the difference between macronutrients and micronutrients? Well, as the names suggest, macronutrients are the primary nutrients our bodies need in big quantities – Protein, fats and carbohydrates. These nutrients provide caloric value and are needed to sustain a healthy body weight and physiological functioning.

On the other hand, micronutrients do not really have a caloric value, but are just as important, due to their role in a variety of important processes all around the body. Micronutrients include phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and last but not least, antioxidants! The body needs these nutrients to sustain the production of a variety of enzymes and hormones, which relate to overall healthy functioning of the many systems and processes the body does on a daily basis.

Micronutrient Deficiencies

Though the body needs micronutrients in small amounts, their absence quickly surfaces with a flurry of unwanted side effects.

For example, a magnesium deficiency can cause you to:

  1. Sleep poorly
  2. Crave sugar 
  3. Cramp
  4. Be unable to focus

Vitamins and minerals are an important part of human nutrition, mainly because they help kids grow healthy and strong, while adults can reap the benefits of sustained health. Fortunately enough, micronutrient deficiencies are generally easy to address with a varied diet of colorful foods.

Common Micronutrient Deficiencies 

With the abundance of nutrient-poor foods available micronutrient deficiencies are quite a common thing!

Here are the most common micronutrient deficiencies found in humans:

  1. Vitamin B12
  2. Iron 
  3. Iodine
  4. Magnesium
  5. Vitamin D

Some of these are easy to recognize and don’t pose much risk, but others can cause severe discomfort and if sustained in the long term, even damage. For instance, B12 deficiencies, can lead to anemia, memory issues, mood swings, irregular work of the heart and even neurological problems.

Micronutrient-Rich Foods

Unless you have severe deficiencies (which should be diagnosed through your PCP!), micronutrient supplements are not mandatory, as most deficiencies can be treated with a slight change in nutritional habits. Let’s have a look at some of the most vitamin & mineral-abundant foods!

  1. Fatty fish – Omega-3s, vitamin D
  2. Citrus fruits – Vitamin C, Folic acid
  3. Carrots – Vitamin A
  4. Eggs- Vitamin B, Iron
  5. Avocados – Vitamins B2, B5, B6 (And tons of healthy fat!)
  6. Kiwis – Vitamin A, C, E, K, Folate & Choline

Including these foods in your menu regularly will keep you away from deficiencies and maintain a balanced inner chemistry.

Take-Home Message

  • Your best nutrition plan is a good balance between macronutrients, micronutrients and calories, with a little bit of fun thrown in.
  • Though micronutrients do not provide a caloric value, they play important roles in a variety of bodily functions.
  • Last but not least, micronutrients don’t really need to be tracked as long as you consume a variety of foods throughout your week.

 

How can you add variety to your diet this week?

The New Standard American Diet

by Aimee Wojtowecz

When you think of the Standard American Diet what do you think of? Do you think of broccoli and chicken breasts? Meatloaf and potatoes? Fast food burgers and fries? Any of these choices would be correct. But what if your “diet” consisted of more? The new American diet is everything you consume, which is A LOT more than just food. 

Think about all the choices you make on a regular basis when it comes to what you consume. Personal preferences, nutrition knowledge, spending habits, social media influence, goals, support system, health statistics and more contribute to a large and complex picture. So how do you incorporate all of these sources into your personal nutrition plan? 

Remember back in elementary school when you had to do circle diagrams?

These can be beneficial for more than just social studies projects. Breaking down everything you have to consider when you purchase and consume your food can actually help you clarify your goals and what’s most important to you but it also helps to show you just how complex your own nutrition is. As you can see it’s far more than just the individual foods that you are eating. Our personal worlds continue to get smaller and smaller thanks to technology which means there will be even more to consume and consider in the future. 

So what’s in your nutrition plan? What do you think about when you plan your meals, where you will eat out, who you will eat with, the brands you spend your money on? Does this align with your goals and values? Take ten minutes to make your own diagram and dig deep into what you are consuming and if it is the right plan for you. If you need a hand, just schedule a free nutrition consult and we can help!

What I Wish I’d Never Said as a Coach

by Michael Plank

“Eating like an asshole.”

Man, I wish I’d never said that. I used that term a lot a few years ago. I never used it to directly criticize someone. I always said it about myself or used it in a hypothetical scenario. But if I could go back and delete that phrase from my brain, I would in a heartbeat.

What I was trying to talk about was the phenomenon where eating an extra roll at dinner leads to 5 beers, a trip to taco bell, and a pint of ice cream (what? just me?). Melissa Urban of the Whole30 uses the term “food without brakes,” which is much better. In my own work with my nutrition coach, we started using language around eating “with or without intention,” which I also like.

The problem with describing any kind of eating as being “like an asshole,” is that it overlays a huge heaping of judgment on it. And if there’s one thing any therapist or counselor or meditation teacher of philosopher worth their salt will tell you, it’s that adding judgment to a behavior is not a helpful way to change it. It doesn’t mean that judgment can’t be valid, but it does mean that people are much more successful when they can look at a behavior objectively – as neither good nor bad – and then make a decision about whether or not that behavior serves them. That’s easier to do with a clear head than with the shame spiral that inevitably follows the second you believe that you’re “eating like an asshole.”

Ugh. Any time I hear someone use that phrase now I cringe and feel a stab of guilt. If I ever said that to you or around you, I’m sorry. I wish I hadn’t. And I don’t anymore.

But we can’t change the past, so here’s what I’ll say moving forward. The next time you feel like your eating is careening out of control, take 30 seconds and clear your head, then ask yourself “what’s my intention right now?” and then make a guilt-free decision based on that. And, spoiler alert, sometimes my intention is to have an extra beer with my friends because we’re having a great time. It’s not all about deprivation. And if that doesn’t work, try nutrition coaching, it’s worked wonders for me, and our nutrition coach will take 10-15 minutes with you to talk for free about how we can help.

And when you end up doing stuff that you ultimately regret (ahem – see the beginning of this post), learn from it, and move on.