<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=424649934352787&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Healthier Recipes for New Year’s Day Food Traditions

GettyImages-651123318Every year on New Year’s Day my husband’s grandma makes cabbage. She says it’s good luck. I had never heard of this tradition, and then someone else told me they eat black-eyed peas for luck, also. I decided to look into it and there are actually quite a few foods that people eat every year on New Year’s Day hoping that the next year will be prosperous and lucky for them—all because of a meal they consumed on the holiday!

Lucky Foods

Here are some whole foods that are considered lucky in various cultural traditions.

  • Black-eyed peas: During the Civil War era, black-eyed peas (also known as field peas) were grown to feed cattle. During a siege in Mississippi, the town was cut off from all food supplies for two months. People were close to starvation and had to resort to eating the crops typically reserved for livestock. If it wasn’t for the lowly “cowpeas,” as they are also known, many people would have died, so this started the tradition of black-eyed peas bringing luck.
  • Pork: Ever hear the expression “high on the hog”? This saying originated because pork was seen as a symbol of wealth and prosperity. Particularly in Pennsylvania Dutch areas, slow-cooked pork is a traditional dish for bringing luck on the first day of the year.
  • Cabbage: This tradition started in Germany and Eastern Europe. It is typically harvested in late fall and then requires a six- to eight-week fermentation process, which means sauerkraut is ready around January 1. Cabbage has lots of symbolism because the strands of cabbage can symbolize a long life, while cabbage itself can symbolize money.
  • Lentils: Italians started this tradition because they believed the flat legumes resembled a Roman coin. They would typically serve it with pork so they could be doubly lucky!

And even after the holiday, you can continue eating whole foods with these recipes for seasonal winter vegetables.

Recipes for Good Luck in 2019

Here are a couple of recipes for you to try this New Year’s Day to bring luck all year!

GettyImages-499394216Slow Cooker Pork and Sauerkraut with Apples

6 thick-cut pork chops
4 tart apples, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1 quart sauerkraut
½ tsp fennel seed, or to taste

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown pork chops in hot skillet, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain.
  2. Arrange apples and onion in the bottom of a slow cooker; top with browned pork chops. Pour in enough water to cover the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Cook on High for 3 hours (or on Low for 6 hours). Add sauerkraut and fennel seed to pork chop mixture. Cook for 1 more hour.

Makes 6 servings.

Slow Cooker Spicy Black-Eyed Peas

6 cups water
1 cube chicken bouillon
1-pound dried black-eyed peas, sorted and rinsed
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
8 ounces diced ham
4 slices bacon, chopped
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1½ tsp cumin
salt, to taste
1 tsp ground black pepper

  1. Pour the water into a slow cooker, add the bouillon cube, and stir to dissolve.
  2. Combine the black-eyed peas, onion, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, ham, bacon, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper; stir to blend.
  3. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours until the beans are tender.

Makes 10 servings.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: new year's holidays whole foods winter vegetables protein

Late-Night Snacks: Satisfy Your Craving with Healthy Eating

GettyImages-945953942If your evening snack is turning into a fourth meal each night, that could hinder your wellness goals or sabotage your daily workout.

There is a lot of thinking that you shouldn’t eat after a certain time of night. However, your metabolism doesn’t shut off at a certain time, so the timing of the snack isn’t necessarily the problem, as long as you make sure to have it at least an hour before bedtime so that it can be more easily digested before you go to sleep.

More often than not, nighttime snacking is from boredom or habit rather than actual hunger. Therefore, assess how you are feeling and then decide whether you are truly hungry and need a snack to hold you over until breakfast.

Healthy Nighttime Snack Options

If you really are hungry, try some of these balanced snacks that are a better option than the salty chips or bowl of ice cream.

  • One apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter
  • Container of Greek yogurt with fresh fruit
  • Raw veggies and hummus
  • Small bowl of high-fiber cereal (at least 3 grams per serving) and milk
  • String cheese or a light cheese wedge and a few whole-wheat crackers
  • Air-popped popcorn and a handful of nuts
  • Blueberries and strawberries with light whipped topping
  • An ounce of dark chocolate and a glass of milk
  • Avocado spread on a Wasa cracker or a slice of whole-wheat bread
  • Low-fat cottage cheese and fruit

Are You Eating Enough During the Day?

If you are consistently starving before bed, it might mean that you aren’t eating enough calories throughout the day. Start monitoring your meals and see if you are spreading your calories evenly between breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a couple of snacks between meals. Making sure you have enough fuel throughout the day can decrease late-night desperation eating.

The other thing to consider is whether you had enough protein at dinner. Protein helps keep you full and satisfied, so have a serving around the size of the palm of your hand or around 25 grams to guarantee you are getting the benefit.

Remember to stop and assess your hunger level first before reaching for any late-night treats!

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: snacks healthy eating fiber protein

10 Foods That Will Keep You Satisfied with Fiber, Protein, and More

GettyImages-855098134Are you one of those people who are always hungry? Are you constantly thinking about your next meal or snack and what you’re going to eat? The issue could be that you aren’t choosing meals or snacks that fill you up and keep you satisfied. So the alternative is grazing constantly to get that full feeling.

Luckily there are lots of foods out there that are filling and will keep you satisfied longer. These foods are ones that are high in protein, fiber, or good-for-you fat. Here’s a list of 10 foods to choose when you want to stay fuller longer.

  • Nuts: Nuts have all three things that help keep you full: healthy fat, protein, and fiber. The key is to stick to a serving size because they are calorie dense. Measure out an ounce and enjoy all types of nuts at snack time or meals to keep you full.
  • Avocado: Loaded with good-for-you fat, these tasty treats are a nice addition to a sandwich or salad, or as a dip for veggies. Like nuts, they are very calorie dense, though, so a little goes a long way. Stick to a fourth of an avocado as a serving and enjoy the benefits of staying satisfied.
  • Eggs: Studies have found that protein keeps you more full than carbs. When you eat eggs versus a bagel for breakfast, the eggs win every time for post-meal satisfaction. Start your day with this complete protein; grab a hard-boiled egg for a snack or add it to your salad at lunch and enjoy staying fuller longer.
  • Popcorn: This tasty snack is high in fiber, which helps with the full factor. It also takes up a lot of volume, which means a serving size is pretty large (3 cups!) for a snack. So, if you like to reach for a larger snack, popcorn could be your new go-to item!
  • Berries: Loaded with fiber, these sweet and tasty fruits are an excellent way to increase your fullness factor. They can easily be added to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack time. The cancer-fighting antioxidants are just an added bonus.
  • Cottage cheese: Dairy foods are high in protein, which is a plus for keeping you full. Cottage cheese is also a great way to vary your snack routine. Toss in some fruit, veggies, or nuts for some crunch, and every day can be a different experience.
  • Celery: If you have heard that celery is a negative-calorie food, you know this a great go-to item for filling you up and keeping you full. It’s low in calories and high in water and fiber content, both of which will help keep those hunger pangs away.
  • Greek yogurt: Another protein-packed goodie is Greek yogurt. Choose a 2% variety to add some fat to your snack or meal. The portion-controlled cup is also nice to help keep the serving size in check.
  • Beans: You get protein and fiber-filled goodness with all of your bean varieties! Toss them into soups, salads, and dips and enjoy the benefits of staying full longer.
  • Sugar-snap peas: Another high-fiber veggie that you can add to your routine is sugar-snap peas. They are crunchy and filling and super easy to prepare. Just wash and go!

Add some or all of these 10 foods to your daily routine and enjoy the benefits of keeping that growling stomach at bay!

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fiber protein fats nutrition weight loss snacks lunch fruits and vegetables

Fad Diet Book Bestsellers for Weight Loss: Buy or Skip?

It seems like every couple of months a new book comes out about a new diet plan for weight loss and shoots to the top of the bestseller list. I decided to check and see what which fad diets are currently topping the list and give you the positives and negatives of them. Of the top eight books, three were related to Whole30 and four were based around the Ketogenic Diet.

GettyImages-855269290.jpgKetogenic Diet (Keto)

This diet plan cuts out all carbs except a very low 20 grams per day, and focuses on a high-fat diet. Doing this allows your body to enter ketosis, where it is breaking down dietary and stored body fat into ketones. The body will now focus on using fat for energy instead of sugar, which is what it normally uses. Protein intake is also lower than traditional low-carb diets to really focus on getting around 75% of your diet from fat.

Pros:

  • Scientifically since you aren’t consuming carbohydrates, your body has no other choice than to burn fat for energy, which results in fat loss.
  • Once you get through the initial stage of getting your body into ketosis, you are less likely to feel hungry, even on a low-calorie diet. This also comes from eating a high-fat diet that will have you consuming more calorie-dense foods.
  • You will reduce your insulin levels and inflammation.
  • Due to the small amount of foods you are allowed to eat, you will more than likely increase your intake of good-for-you fats from nuts, fish, and avocado.

Negatives:

  • It can be very challenging to follow such a strict diet that only allows 10% from carbohydrates and 15% from protein, which is not traditionally how we eat.
  • The first week as your body gets into ketosis can be very challenging with mood swings, hunger, tiredness, and headaches.
  • In order to get so much fat in the diet, most people end up eating a lot of foods high in animal fat or saturated fat.
  • Initial weight loss has been found with this diet, but long term it hasn’t been seen (which may be due to the challenge of sticking to the diet).
  • This diet is very low in fiber, which is needed to keep your heart healthy and keep you full.

Whole30

This diet plan eliminates all sugar (real and artificial), alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, baked goods, junk food and treats (even if they are made with approved ingredients); and no stepping on the scale or taking body measurements for 30 days. You are encouraged to eat real food, specifically meat, seafood, and eggs and lots of fruits and veggies with herbs and seasonings.

Pros:

  • Focuses on real food, so you don’t have to buy special foods and instead can buy everything you need at the grocery store.
  • Encourages healthy fats, lean protein, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Helps to eliminate processed and packaged foods and makes you focus on fresh foods.
  • Discourages replacing junk food with “healthier junk food” made with approved ingredients and encourages no junk food at all.

Negatives:

  • When you eliminate entire food groups such as grains and dairy, you are more likely to be at risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, specifically calcium, Vitamin D, and B Vitamins.
  • If you are choosing non-lean meats, you can be taking in high levels of saturated fat, which will affect your cholesterol.
  • Your fiber levels will decrease when eliminating all grains and legumes (beans).
  • A diet this strict is challenging to maintain long term and may cause rapid weight loss followed by weight gain, which is called yo-yo dieting and has been found to slow down the metabolism and makes losing weight in the future more challenging.
  • If you aren’t used to preparing all of your meals and snacks at home, this will add a lot of time to your typical routine.

If you want to try something new and popular, keep in mind that these diets might not be the best long-term solution due to their strict rules. Both options have some positive aspects about them that can be incorporated into your diet. It never hurts to try something new when the end result is to increase your overall health. Now it’s up to you if you want to spend the money to buy the books and read more!

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: weight loss fad diets whole30 ketogenic diet books carbs fiber protein fats

Five Questions About Healthy Eating Habits for Your Heart

GettyImages-643764514mnew.jpgFebruary is Heart Health Month! Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One of the most important things you can do to increase your heart health and decrease your risk for heart disease is to take a look at your diet. Are you eating the foods that are good for your heart and sparingly consuming the foods that aren’t?

Here are five questions to ask yourself about your diet.

  • How much sodium are you eating? Hypertension or high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. One of the best ways to decrease your blood pressure or to prevent high blood pressure is to watch the amount of sodium in your diet. It's in everything these days. However, it is not in fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables, and lean meats. The worst foods are those that are typically processed and packaged, and food when you are dining out. When grocery shopping, try to stay on the outside aisles of the store and avoid purchasing a lot of items down the center aisles. This tends to be the area where the higher-sodium foods are located. Try to decrease how many times you eat out per week. When you do dine out, be sure to drink plenty of water to help flush out the excess that is bound to be in your food.
  • Are you choosing low-fat animal protein sources? Saturated fat is the fat that is found in animal products and is directly linked to elevated cholesterol and increasing the risk for heart disease. Most individuals get their protein from meat, resulting in high saturated fat consumption. The best way to watch the amount you are taking in is to choose lower-fat protein sources such as those from fish that is grilled or baked, white-meat chicken and turkey without skin, center cuts of pork, and lean cuts of red meat such as filet or sirloin.
  • Are you eating fruits and veggies with every meal? Prepare them any way you like, and shoot for a few portions at each meal. Toss fruit into your oatmeal or yogurt and add veggies to your eggs at breakfast. At lunchtime it’s easy to grab a veggie as your side to your sandwich. Fruit is an easy and portable snack any time of day, and half of your plate should be covered with vegetables at dinner! These nutrient powerhouses are loaded with fiber. Fiber helps to decrease the cholesterol in your body, which can be very heart protective.
  • Where are the high-fiber carbohydrates? Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap in recent years, mainly due to the increased intake of highly processed and unnatural carbohydrate sources. Carbs are important and help supply the body with energy it needs to run various systems of the body. Portion control is key here (1 to 2 cupped-hand-sized servings) and so is choosing the kind of carbohydrate. Choose whole grains, beans, lentils, and fruits that are unprocessed the majority of the time.
  • Are you eating the right kinds of fat? Fat in your diet is important; however, the type of fat you are choosing is key. Remember that animal fat is the not-good-for-your-heart fat, along with foods that are packaged to have a long shelf life and those that are deep fried. The good fats are those from vegetable sources such as nuts, olive oil, avocado, and fatty fish like salmon. Choose these types of fat the majority of the time, being aware of portion sizes though, since they carry a lot of calories with them also.

If you have a family history of heart disease, you should definitely be asking yourself these five questions and working toward healthy eating habits. Take time this month to reflect on your heart health, decrease your sodium intake, and increase your fiber and good-for-you fats!

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: portion control sodium hypertension heart health healthy eating protein fiber fruits and vegetables eating habits heart disease

What to Eat: Nutrition Before a Long Run or Workout

GettyImages-627524836.jpgYour body needs fuel! When you are planning to do a run or a workout that is longer than an hour, the way to ensure that you have enough energy to get through it is to make sure you are eating the proper combination of foods beforehand for endurance. This is tricky, though, because you want to make sure what you are eating doesn’t upset your stomach during the workout. Here are some suggestions to get you through the workout with the right nutrition for feeling great.

Tips for Eating Before a Workout

The most important thing is to eat something that is familiar. You never want to try something new on race day or competition day. The old saying “practice makes perfect” will help decide what works best for your body.

Aim for a meal that has an easily digestible carbohydrate-to-protein ratio of 3:1. Typically you want something that is lower in fiber and not high in saturated or bad-for-you fats.

For most people, eating around 2 hours prior to running is ideal; but some people have found they can tolerate food 30 minutes before a workout, especially if you are doing the run first thing in the morning. If that is the case, something smaller might be best. Make sure to have a snack before bed that has a combination of carbs and protein (such as cheese and crackers, a yogurt parfait, or fruit and nuts).

Pre-workout Meal Ideas

These are suggestions that you can try to come up with your body’s perfect pre-workout meal depending on the time of day you are completing it.

  • 1–2 slices of wheat toast or an English muffin with peanut butter
  • Cup of Greek yogurt with berries
  • Cup of oatmeal with fruit and nuts
  • Banana with almond butter
  • Half a bagel with an egg and cheese
  • Turkey sandwich with a slice of cheese
  • Pita pocket with homemade tuna salad
  • Cup of quinoa with veggies mixed in
  • Cup of whole-wheat pasta with meat sauce
  • Cup of brown rice with chicken and veggies

Start practicing with some of these suggestions or with other meals or snacks that sound good to you that meet the 3:1 carb-to-protein ratio so you are ready to tackle those long runs and workouts.

This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition running endurance workouts protein carbs snacks

3 Foods to Eat Before You Run

ThinkstockPhotos-617595994.jpgWe all know that having a wonderful training program is important, but that’s only one piece of the pie. Another key part of successfully training for a half marathon or endurance activity is having proper nutrition

If you don’t fuel your body with the nutrients it needs – a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat – you are likely to bonk and run out of energy mid run. And that isn’t fun for anyone! When I plan my foods to eat before a long run or workout, I make sure it has:

  • Easily digested carbs for long lasting energy
  • Protein for muscle repair and recovery
  • Small amount of Fat

It’s also important to make sure to consider the timing. Everyone is different, so it’s important to pay attention to what foods your body digests well and what makes you feel best.

It’s typically recommended to eat between 3 hours or 30 minutes before a workout.

My 3 favorite foods to eat before a long run or hard workout are:

  • A couple of dates stuffed with nut butter
    • Dates are filled with simple sugar, which is typically easily digested and the nut butter gives your body a bit of protein for recovery and healthy fat.
  • Larabar®
    • Larabars® are easy to grab. The ingredient list is full of real foods (dates, dried fruit, nuts) so they are a great source of those easily digested carbohydrates.
  • Carrots and Hummus
    • The hummus and carrots provide essential carbohydrates and the chickpeas in the hummus also provides the necessary protein for recovery with a small amount of fat.

Those are some of our favorite foods to eat within a 3 hour window before completing a long run.


Nutrition for the Pre-Run

Remember that everyone is different, and different foods and different timing may make you feel great! Try looking for your best source of carbs, protein and fat to eat within that 3 hour window before running. And make sure to do ALL experimenting before race day. Trying something new on race day could throw your entire race off!

Be sure to comment below with some of your favorite foods to eat before a training run!

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, nutirition specialist. Follow Tara on her blog, Treble in the Kitchen. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: mini marathon nutrition carbs cardio protein

Indianapolis 500 Winners Drink Milk—For Tradition and Recovery

ThinkstockPhotos-450325179--new.jpgWith the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 approaching, a lot of traditions and stories are being shared. As we head into the month of May and all of the events leading up to race day on May 29, the one that as a dietitian I am most intrigued about is, “Why does the winner drink milk?”

I love a glass of cold milk: cow’s milk, soy milk, chocolate milk, almond milk, cashew milk…it doesn’t matter to me. But after a hot and sweaty trip around the oval 200 times, I’m not sure that would be my drink of choice.

The History of the Indianapolis 500 Milk Legend

Here is some history on the interesting choice of beverage for the winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” year after year. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway writes this:

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Louis Meyer regularly drank buttermilk to refresh himself on a hot day and happened to drink some in Victory Lane as a matter of habit after winning the 1936 race. An executive with what was then the Milk Foundation was so elated when he saw the moment captured in a photograph in the sports section of his newspaper the following morning that he vowed to make sure it would be repeated in coming years. There was a period between 1947-55 when milk was apparently no longer offered, but the practice was revived in 1956 and has been a tradition ever since.

It is also interesting to note that the American Dairy Council pays a sponsorship of $10,000 to the winner of the race if they sip milk after their victory. Two drivers skipped the milk in recent years. In 1993 Emerson Fittipaldi opted for orange juice, and in 1981 Bobby Unser also refused. 

Milk for Workout Recovery

We have known for years that chocolate milk is the gold standard in recovery after strength training, so why not grab a glass of cold calcium-packed milk after a grueling workout? Even though it is seen as a strange tradition, it is the perfect recovery fuel after hours spent in a hot car.

The benefit of the chocolate (or any flavor) milk is the additional sugar to help replace what was just burned during the workout; however, even if it is not flavored, the carbohydrates in white milk are beneficial. Chocolate milk does have the perfect ratio of carbohydrate to protein, so if that is available it would be the best choice. Keep in mind that non-dairy milk such as almond, cashew, and hemp do not have the protein component that is key for recovery. 

The good news is that milk isn’t just for winners of the Indy 500. Anyone can benefit from this delicious beverage after a workout. Grab your favorite kind soon!

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: Indianapolis recovery protein milk

Top 10 Must-Have Pantry Items for Healthy Eating

I get asked all the time, “What should I eat?” This is not an easy question to answer. There are foods that should definitely be eaten more often than others, and foods that are better to just have every once in a while, but it’s hard to pick certain foods that are a MUST HAVE in your diet for best nutrition. However, if you are looking for a list of items that you can purchase to have in your pantry for quick, healthy, and easy meal or snack ideas, start with this list.

ThinkstockPhotos-493279620n.jpg
  • Pouches or cans of tuna: This shelf-stable protein source is packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It is also an inexpensive protein, which is nice since meat adds the most to your grocery bill. Add it to salads, or mix with plain Greek yogurt and enjoy a tasty tuna salad. White albacore tuna is the best, but any variety that is water packed is a great choice.
  • Canned beans: These protein- and fiber-filled gems are also very inexpensive. All varieties are great and can easily be tossed into pastas, salads, or salsas for a filling meal or snack. Be sure to drain and rinse them to rid the beans of the high sodium liquid.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil: A staple of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, this flavor-packed oil is versatile; you can use it to cook meats and veggies, or drizzle it on a salad for a quick homemade dressing.
  • Oats: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and with oats you can start your day in a variety of ways! Add fruit, nuts, nut butters, pumpkin, or flax for a different bowl of goodness each day. These are also good to use in meatloaf or other recipes that call for breadcrumbs, to up the fiber amount.
  • Nuts: Nuts are loaded with fiber and protein (three times more than potato chips!). These should be a regular part of your diet. Whether you love cashews, almonds, pistachios, or another nut, grab an unsalted or lightly salted variety to get the benefits of the good-for-you fat in all nuts.
  • Quinoa/brown rice/whole-wheat pasta: To fill 25% of your plate with whole grains, it’s a good idea to keep some high-fiber options stocked in the pantry. One-half to 1 cup (cooked) of any of these grains will add staying power and tastiness to any meal.
  • Sweet potatoes: Want an alternative to a white potato? Sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber and vitamin A. Since they are naturally flavorful, they won’t need much added to them. Baked, roasted, or spiralized into noodles, a sweet potato is a great addition to any meal.
  • Salsa: A dip that is also a veggie is a must to keep in your pantry. Choose a chunky salsa where the majority of ingredients are just veggies and not a lot of additives. Then use this to top baked potatoes or eggs, or as a dip for veggies. Chips aren’t the only way to get salsa in your diet!
  • Nut butters: Another inexpensive but great protein option is nut butters. You can do the traditional peanut butter, or try new varieties like almond-nut butter or soy-nut butter. All are perfect for adding to whole-wheat toast, oatmeal, celery, or smoothies.
  • Green tea bags: If you need something more flavorful than just water to drink, add some green tea to your routine. It is loaded with antioxidants to keep you healthy, is a great way to get in your fluid intake, is naturally very low in caffeine, and has been shown to speed up your metabolism! All of these are great reasons to reach for this beverage any time of day.

***

What did you eat today? Don’t underestimate the role that proper nutrition plays in your health and fitness. Contact Angie Scheetz ascheetz@nifs.org or click below to learn more about the My Nutrition Coach app

 Learn More

 

This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating protein fiber pantry

Adding Nutritional Supplements to Your Diet and Workout

Most of us have specific goals in mind when it comes to an exercise program. We work hard to achieve these results day in and day out, but sometimes our bodies may need an extra push to get over that hump. Many people question the importance of adding supplements to a healthy diet and workout routine, as well they should.

ThinkstockPhotos-471775270.jpgWith so many different supplements flooding the shelves these days, it’s hard to know which ones will truly help you achieve your desired results. Although I agree that some supplements might not be necessary to include in your program, others could be beneficial to many individuals no matter what their fitness goals are.

Not a Substitute for Proper Nutrition

Before I go any further, I want to note that supplementation is simply an addition to your diet and exercise regime. These are not meant to replace a well-balanced whole-food diet; they are meant to be used in conjunction.

Most of the nutrients we need are already being produced by our own bodies to a certain extent, as well as existing in foods we eat daily. Some essential nutrients such as protein, creatine, and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are naturally produced in the body and can be found in meat products, including (but not limited to) red meat, fish, and ground turkey. These amounts are just large enough to support daily functioning, but may not be produced in large enough quantities to aid in dramatic physique enhancements. If you are looking to take your physique to the next level, supplementation might be just what you need.

Which Ones Should I Use?

Here are the top five supplements (in my opinion, and that of many top professionals) you could add to your exercise and diet program.

  1. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): BCAAs are essential nutrients that help the body slow down protein and muscle breakdown, which can aid in preventing muscle fatigue during intense workouts. It works by stimulating the building of protein in muscles, which in turn helps prevent muscle breakdown. I would not recommend using BCAAs when trying to gain muscle hypertrophy (or size), as muscle breakdown is essential for muscle growth. Instead, try a pre-workout or caffeinated drink before your workout for extra energy.
  2. Creatine: Creatine is an organic acid that is produced in the liver and helps supply energy to cells all over the body (especially muscle cells). People take creatine because it allows the body to produce more energy, and with more energy a person is able to increase the intensity of their workouts. Many athletes use creatine to improve their overall performance. It also helps aid in quicker muscle recovery after an intense workout.
  3. Protein: Your muscles need protein grow and recover from muscle breakdown caused by exercise. You can get plenty of protein in your diet; however protein shakes are generally lower in calories than a high-protein meal. They are also portable and more convenient that carrying around whole-food meals (here are some ideas for making your own). Two widely used proteins are whey and casein. Whey is a fast-digesting protein that aids in muscle recovery and muscle growth. Casein is a slow-digesting protein that creates a longer-lasting supply of muscle-building nutrients. Many experts recommend taking a mixture of the two proteins to ensure a release of amino acids into the blood for as long as possible, therefore aiding in lean muscle gain as well as body fat decline.
  4. Multi-vitamins: Multi-vitamins are essential to support the body’s everyday functioning. Your body needs a variety of complex nutrients for optimum efficiency and performance. Taking a high-potency multi-vitamin can ensure your body is getting those essential nutrients to support thousands of metabolic reactions. Here’s more information on the importance of a multi-vitamin for your health and fitness goals, including a list of the essential vitamins and minerals you need.
  5. Fish oil: Fish oil tablets are the most efficient way to get the purest and most concentrated dose of Omega-3s into your diet. Omega-3s have been proven to improve blood circulation, which in turn will allow nutrients such as protein and carbohydrates to reach muscles. Omega-3s also help with maximizing metabolic rate, which in turn helps with fat loss.

Dietary supplements can have many health benefits as well as many performance-based benefits. If you are not concerned with taking supplements for their potential performance enhancements, you should at least be taking supplements such as multi-vitamins and fish oil tablets for your general health. They can be an easy addition to your diet and exercise regimen that may have huge effects on your overall health. Add supplements on an as-needed basis after conducting a needs analysis, and implement one at a time.

If you have additional questions or concerns about supplementation, please stop by and ask any Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS or contact our Registered Dietitian, Angie Mitchell for more information.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Darius Felix, Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness nutrition fitness center protein muscle mass vitamins supplements