Apples wake you up!

If you are like most Americans, your day starts with coffee. Hopefully that is not the extent of your morning fuel, but if you feel as though that is all you have time for, consider making a switch. An apple is super easy to take on the go and due to the nutrients packed in this juicy fruit, apples wake you up.

The first reason apples wake you up is the natural sugar found within called fructose or fruit sugar. This type of sugar is more slow acting than table sugar, so instead of getting the dreaded sugar high and crash, it will be a steadier stream of energy.

The fiber contained in an apple helps sustain that energy as well. Fiber slows down the sugar’s digestion in the body and makes the effect last longer. The type of fiber in apples also helps lower the risk of heart disease for an added bonus.

Water found in apples, like any water, can also help to wake the body up. Water is essential for life, so if you think about it, this makes sense. Water helps to wake up all of the cells in your body and jump-starts your metabolism for the day. Dehydration causes a feeling of tiredness, so an apple is a great way to add a little water into your diet.

Quercetin, is a polyphenolic flavonoid found in apples that has been shown to provide antioxidant effects. It has also been shown to increase oxygen levels. Over a seven day period, participants in a study who were given quercetin had improved VO2 max levels, or a higher oxygen capacity as well as overall endurance. The higher the oxygen levels in the body, the more oxygen is available to the brain, therefore the quercetin in apples can likely help wake you up.

Dietary polyphenols found in apples are also thought to have a positive effect on blood sugar regulation. Although there are many sugars and carbohydrates in apples, apples’ polyphenol content might help to stop the blood sugar spike, making apples a healthy way to obtain energy.

Other great health benefits from apples include:

Vitamin C: this vitamin is a great antioxidant that can help protect the body from infection and disease.

Great workout fuel: not only do apples have waking powers, the combination of fructose, other types of carbohydrates and water also makes apples great pre-workout fuel.

So why not wake up to a sweet and juicy apple each day? I know after all of this research, I will at least be integrating apples into my diet for some healthy pre-workout energy!

Sources for “Apples wake you up!”:

Originally posted 2013-12-17 07:09:16.

Are almonds fattening?

Honestly I chose to answer the question, “Are almonds fattening?” because the idea of attributing any one food to making a person fat drives me nuts (no pun intended). For the sake of discussion though, let’s dive into it.

Almonds are a favorite food of mine, so I will admit to some bias. I love adding them to cereal, onto toast, or mixing them in with  baked goods for some added texture and nutrition. I also used to stop at the farmer’s market every year for a small bag of roasted almonds coated in a cinnamon sugar glaze as a semi-healthy treat. I adore eating something tasty while also boosting my nutrition for the day.

Let’s break down the nutrition facts to getter a better picture of whether or not almonds are fattening.

One fourth cup of slivered almonds, which is quite a bit if you think about it, is only 156 calories. As with most nuts, the profile of the almond is high in fat, but this type of fat is a heart-healthy one. Natural fats, like those found in almonds, are required for many things in the body including brain function and the digestion of fat soluble vitamins. Almonds’ fat content isn’t enough evidence to say that they’re fattening!

Almonds pack protein, fiber and a variety of vitamins all in one little nut. Almonds contain potassium, which helps balance out the sodium in your body, as well as phosphorus and magnesium, which are important for bone health. Magnesium might also help manage cortisol, a stress hormone that can cause negative biological consequences (including weight-gain) when out of balance. Almonds also contain vitamin E, which is great for healthy skin and nails.

The thing about almonds is that some people do not enjoy them plain, but feel the need to have them roasted and salted. One fourth cup of roasted and salted almonds can add over 100mg of sodium as well as extra fat in the form of oil, which is added to help keep the salt attached to the almonds.  So, if you’re going for the healthiest almond option, dry roasted almonds with lower sodium are the best.

But are almonds fattening?

Let’s think about this for a moment. What exactly is it that makes a particular food (such as almonds) fattening or not? Is it fat content? Is it high carbohydrates? Is it large amounts of protein or calories?

How about none of the above?

That’s right. No single food will “make you fat,” whether it contains fat or not. Yes, certain foods do not contain the nutrition that our bodies need, but that does not mean once that forbidden food hits your lips it heads straight to your hips. That is not the way the body works.

How and why is fat stored in the body?

Fat is stored when the energy from any given food is not used up in a given amount of time. The stored fat can be used for fuel later on if the body is desperately in need of energy. Fat is not the first form of energy the body burns, but that is a whole different discussion. To give a very broad answer, fat is stored when the incoming calories are higher than the output of calories.

It is important to look at the full picture when asking questions like, “Are almonds fattening?”

Because the fact of the matter is, yes, any food can make you fat. This includes almonds if we eat too many or if our energy expenditure is less than the amount of calories we eat. The great thing about whole foods like almonds, however, is that they are more likely to satisfy you than refined foods, which means you’ll be less likely to store extra fat from eating almonds than, say, almond roca. 

Are almonds a nutritious source of food that we should be incorporating in our diet? Absolutely, yes.

And not just because I am nutty about them.

 

Tell me…

What is your favorite kind of nut?

What are your thoughts on “fattening” foods?

 

Sources for “Are almonds fattening?”:

Originally posted 2013-12-06 16:16:11.

Running in Cold Weather

Running in cold weatherI remember the first time I went running in cold weather. It was below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and I thought that I had better bundle up if I was going to be outside for a full thirty minutes! So bundle up I did! I wore a hat, gloves, a scarf, warm fuzzy socks and those earmuffs that have the wire in them and can be folded up.

If you have ever run in the cold, or even run outdoors at all, you might see where I went wrong. Ten minutes into the run I was a sweaty mess with a scarf that kept falling off and earmuffs that I wanted to throw into the nearest trashcan (since they were digging into my ears). There is a better way friends. Learn from my mistakes and make running in cold weather as pleasant as possible.

First of all, abide by the running in cold weather rule of thumb: dress as though it is 20 degrees (F) warmer than it actually is outdoors. Yes, wind chill can come into play so maybe change it to 10 degrees on a windy day, but the basic principal stands. You will usually warm up 10-20 minutes into your run, at which point you wont want to be bogged down by extra clothing.

Running a race in cold weather: If you are running in a busy race, such as one with 40 thousand runners (I did one like this a month ago), you might want to consider the amount of time you will be waiting outside in the cold before you the race begins. It might be a good idea to wear extra clothing. At most races, items of clothing left on the side of the road will be cleaned and donated to local homeless shelters so you can wear extra layers and toss them when you no longer need them to run in the cold.

Stick with your usual running clothing material. I found out the hard way that just because it is cold outside does not mean you should change the type of material you usually wear to run. Wear breathable, sweat wicking clothing that is comfortable and won’t chafe when running long distances.

Layer up properly. I did at least have this part right when I started out, but I did it with the wrong materials. You can always take off a jacket to tie around your waist, but it is tricky if you are trying to be stylish with a long-sleeved tee layered under a short-sleeved one. I have even seen some runners wear a jacket underneath their short-sleeved shirt which makes me scratch my head. You really cannot predict how exactly you will feel once you start running. It’s always best to be prepared to remove a layer of clothing instead of being stuck with what you are wearing.

Wear comfortable accessories. That scarf I had on my first time running? Big mistake. It was some kind of heavy, scratchy wool that I thought would keep me warm, but it irritated me instead. The earmuffs I wore that dug into my ears? Another big mistake. Now I only run with headband style earmuffs — they’re comfortable throughout the run, and I can let them hang around my neck when I get too warm.

Try to wear pockets. If you’re like me, my hands get warm then cold, warm then cold through an entire run in the cold. It’s handy to have pockets instead of having to hold gloves when your hands get too warm. Also if you’re like me, your nose might tend to run a bit so you can always stash a tissue or two in a pocket.

Lastly, safety first. Try not to run on snow or ice unless you have the right traction. I know you might be training for a race and it tends to be better to run outdoors when training, but consider the risks. Is it really worth running in the cold or icy weather if you might injure yourself in the process? If you need to run outdoors then consider purchasing ice cleats or clips that can be put on your regular running shoes to help keep you upright when running on snow or ice.

If you are running in cold weather, don’t make the same mistakes I did. It is possible to have a good run outdoors no matter what the temperature if you do it right. Layer-up, make sure it’s breathable, and don’t use anything that’s too bulky!

Also see: Ladies’ Guide to Warm Weather Running Clothes

Tell me..

Have you ever run in the cold?

Do you have any minimum or maximum temperature requirements for running outdoors? Mine range is usually from 20 to 80 degrees (f).

Originally posted 2013-11-26 14:46:50.

Vitamin D Deficiency During the Winter

Vitamin D Deficiency in Winter

Daylight savings has come and we have had our first snow dusting in the Twin Cities. It is time to start considering the risk of vitamin D deficiency — the days are getting shorter and a tad drearier, especially here. I never actually realized this, but it gets darker earlier up north since we are further from the equator. This means less hours of sunshine and less direct sun rays, which can be a bit of a problem since sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. 

Vitamin D is essential to the body for maintaining proper amounts of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Vitamin D also aids in the absorption of calcium which helps keep our bones nice and strong. According to the Mayo clinic, vitamin D deficiency could cause rickets, or malformation of bones, in children and osteomalacia, or weakened bones and muscles in adults. Low levels of vitamin D is also thought to cause depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder in some individuals, with fall and winter being especially high risk times.  The FDA’s daily recommendations for vitamin D are 600IU for ages 1-70 and 800IU for those over the age of 70, but according to other research this might just be the bare minimum. So what are ways we can obtain the needed vitamin D during the darker winter months and avoid vitamin D deficiency?

Dietary sources typically only make up for 20% of our overall vitamin D intake, but it doesn’t hurt to load up on these foods during times of lower sunlight.  Here are few foods to help you avoid vitamin D deficiency: Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel or salmon. Six ounces of salmon contains over 600IU of vitamin D. Eggs (in the yolk). Fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, soy milk and cereals. Beef liver. Cod liver oil (if you get desperate) which used to be a very common vitamin D supplement.

Get all the sunlight you can in the winter. Again, sunlight is the best way for your body to get vitamin D. In a time when we are all worried about skin cancer, it is still recommended that we get a moderate amount of sun for vitamin D production. The body actually stores extra vitamin D in the fat cells to avoid seasonal deficiency.   On a sunny day during the spring or summer for someone with moderately tanned skin and moderately close to the equator (yes, a little unspecific), it only takes being outside for 15 minutes with face and hands uncovered (including no sunscreen) for the body to produce enough vitamin D. During the winter, try to walk outside for 15-20 minutes during the sunniest part of the day several times per week, if not daily.

Recommendations for the amount of sunlight needed can be tricky since adequate vitamin D production is based on a number of factors. First of all, the darker your skin, the more difficult it is for the UVB light to penetrate and produce vitamin D. It also depends on where you live. The further away from the equator you are, the less direct UVB rays you get. It also depends on the time of the year, and as we discussed, the winter months produce the low amounts of sunshine.

Cautious tanning bed usage. Although large amounts of time spent in a tanning bed are not recommended due to the risk of skin cancer, these beds still produce UVB light that your body can turn into vitamin D. The Vitamin D Vouncil recommends caution with tanning beds, but still suggests a short period of time in a bed that contains more UVB than UVA light. The rule of thumb recommended by The Council is half the amount of time it takes your skin to turn pink (for a freckled gal like me this is probably about 4-5 minutes).

Supplements are also an option. Always be careful when taking supplements as you never want to over dose, especially on a fat soluble vitamin such as vitamin D. The upper tolerable level for vitamin D is set to 10,000 IU for all forms of vitamin D.

Low levels of sunlight can be a bummer for the mood and the body, but you can easily obtain the vitamin D you need though adequate UV rays, foods, and supplements to keep happy and healthy during the winter months. Avoiding vitamin D deficiency is easy and can result in vast improvements in your health. (Always check with your doctor before taking new supplements, starting a new diet, or using a tanning bed.)  

Tell me…

Are you affected by the dark days of winter?

Have you ever had cod liver oil?

Sources for “Vitamin D Deficiency in Winter:”

Originally posted 2013-11-21 09:45:29.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

When you were cleaning out your pumpkin to make a friendly jack-o-lantern this year, did you save the pumpkin seeds? I have to admit that my stint with making pumpkin puree ended up with the pumpkin “guts” in the trash. I was simply too lazy to do any more work than was necessary.

Then I discovered all of the amazing health benefits of pumpkin seeds. I mean I knew seeds and nuts were awesome, but I had no idea to what extent with this particular seed until I did some research.

Here are a few of the health benefits of pumpkin seeds:

Good for the heart

These large seeds contain phytoestrogens that are thought to lead to higher HDL (High Density Lipoproteins or good cholesterol) and at the same time lower LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins or bad cholesterol). This helps to lower blood pressure and all around improves your heart function.

Give you energy

Pumpkin seeds are high in Iron, which is a key nutrient in boosting energy levels. Compared to foods high in sugar or processed carbohydrates, the high iron and nutrient content in Pumpkin seeds promotes long lasting energy without the crashes. I know I prefer long-lasting energy to the highs and lows of the sugar cycle.

Good for the brain

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of omega 3s, a healthy type of fat that builds up the brain. Americans get plenty of omega-6s, but are often deficient in omega-3s, so grab a handful of pumpkin seeds to beat the odds!

May prevent certain cancers

Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants such as vitamin E that are thought to help battle cancer promoting oxidants in the body.

Good for your skin

The same antioxidant that may prevent certain cancers, vitamin E, is also great for your skin. Vitamin E fights free radical damage, protecting the skin and keeping it looking young and healthy. Pumpkin seeds are also high in Zinc, which has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, making it a an excellent ingredient in many acne medications.

Boost your immune system

The World Health Organization recommends consuming pumpkin seeds for their high zinc content. Zinc is used to battle things such as the common cold and ear infections as well as aiding wound healing. Why not boost your immune system with some tasty seeds?

Help promote a good night’s sleep

I don’t need to tell you the benefits of sleep (See: How Getting More Sleep Changed My Life)…go without it even one night and you will realize your mental and physical capabilities are shot. Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan which the body converts to serotonin, then melatonin which is a key factor in signaling your body that it’s time for rest.

(More posts about sleep here.)

Good for older men’s and women’s health

Pumpkin seeds contain a key nutrient for prostate health: zinc. A healthy prostate obviously means less of a chance of prostate cancer which is common in older men. The phytoestrogens found in pumpkin seeds can help ease symptoms of menopause.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a pumpkin and start digging! (Or if you’re like me, grab a bag of seeds from the store and enjoy!)

See more posts about pumpkin here.

Sources: Pumpkin Seeds, Web MD: Zinc

Tell me…

Have you ever roasted pumpkin seeds?

Do you know any other benefits to pumpkin seeds?

Originally posted 2013-11-08 13:57:50.

Add Some Color to Your Diet with Foods You Love

Organic market fruits and vegetablesAdd Some Color to Your Diet with Foods You Love

Sometimes when we think we cannot accomplish a goal, we have a tendency to give up. After all, why try to do something that is thought to be impossible. The USDA recommends that we eat 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but only 33 percent of Americans are reaching this goal. This may make the goal seem impossible. What if we are a picky eater? What if we do not like kale or blueberries? Can we still achieve a healthy and balanced diet?

The answer is yes! You do not need to love the latest super food or the healthiest of vegetables to get the nutrients your body needs to thrive. Simply add some color to your diet.

Most of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables can be separated into color groups, so all you have to do is pick a couple of foods from each group to add to your weekly food intake.

Green

The green fruits and vegetables have amazing benefits from lutein, zeaxanthin and indoles that help age-related macular degeneration as well as speed up the enzymes that break down carcinogens. These greens also strengthen bones and teeth.

Green fruits and vegetables include: kiwi, honeydew, avocado, zucchini, celery, asparagus, edamame, peas

Green, Leafy

I have separated out the green leafy vegetables from the other green fruits and vegetables because of the health benefits and disease prevention provided by this specific group. These vegetables also contain a lot of fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is very important to include green leafy vegetables in your diet on a daily basis.

Green leafy vegetables include: kale, spinach, collards, Swiss chard, mustard greens broccoli, romaine lettuce, cabbage and iceberg lettuce (although this last one is mostly water).

Blue and Purple

This category of colored fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins, phenolics and resveratrol that help prevent the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease. These nutritious fruits and vegetables also help improve memory and promote healthy aging.

Blue and purple fruits and vegetables include: purple cabbage, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, eggplants, and plums.

Red

Red vegetables and fruits contain lycopene and anthocyanins which helps to neutralize free radicals that can cause cancers and other harmful diseases.

Red fruits and vegetables include: tomatoes, grapefruit, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, beets, radishes, red peppers, rhubarb, cherries, cranberries and red apples.

Orange and Yellow

This color of produce contains carotenoids and bioflavonoids that help maintain the immune system, slow aging, as well as prevent cancer. Carotenoids are also thought to improve eye health.

Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables include: cantaloupe, corn, pineapple, pumpkin, apricots, oranges, tangerines, orange and yellow peppers, and mangoes.

White

White fruits and vegetables contain anthoxanthins that may help lower blood pressure and reduce risk for heart disease. These also contain allicin which has been shown to reduce the risk of stomach cancers.

White fruits and vegetables include: bananas, mushrooms, onions, garlic, potatoes, cauliflower, parsnips and turnips.

So why not pick out one or two items from each color category and add them to your diet? You do not need to love all fruits and vegetables or even the most popular produce to obtain the nutrients you need. Simply pick and eat the ones you enjoy to live a healthy, happy life.

Sources: Guide to a Healthy Kitchen by WebMDThe Color of Nutrition by NY TimesNutrition: Fruit and Vegetable Colors by Livestrong

Originally posted 2013-10-29 10:44:10.

6 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Workout

If you’re like me, you probably go through periods where you lack a certain motivation needed to exercise. You might have fallen out of the habit for a few days or maybe a few months. Whatever the case, today is a new day! Don’t feel bad about it; make the decision to jump back in the game.

Here are some ways to motivate yourself to work out:

1. Grab a friend. Accountability does wonders for maintaining a regular workout routine. You might be able to let yourself down, but letting down someone you care about by not showing up to a scheduled workout is really tough to do. The added bonus is that it makes your workout more social and fun, therefore you are even more likely to do this again.

2. Design a new fitness routine. It can be fun searching the web or magazines to find new workouts. I love trying new things and this helps keep me from getting bored. It’s also beneficial for the body to change up your routine every couple of months.  Variety wakes up muscles that might have been less active during your last routine.

3. Sign up for a race. Signing up for a race is always exciting for me and reliably motivating. I know that I will have to be able to run the distance safely and hopefully painlessly, so I need to train my body. I can’t train my body by sitting on the couch, so the knowledge that I have a race in the future helps get me out the door. (See 13.1 Reasons to Sign Up for a Half-Marathon)  

4. Lay out clothes the night before. If you are hitting the gym or the trail early in the morning, make sure you have everything ready the night before. This way your morning workouts won’t feel stressful and you can enjoy the time. If you really feel like you won’t want to get up in the morning, try wearing your workout clothes to bed. Then all you have to do is slip your shoes on!

5. Speaking of clothes…buy some new workout pieces. I know when I buy a new pair of shoes or brightly colored shorts I can’t wait to try them out. It’s also helpful to head to a gym full of people when you feel you look your best. You don’t have to spend a whole lot of money…even fun new socks can be motivating. (See Ladies’ Guide to Warm-Weather Running Clothes)

6. Picture the end results. How do you feel after a good workout? How do your clothes fit when you are staying active and taking care of yourself? I know that I have never left a workout session thinking, “Gee, I sure regret that workout.” Regular exercise does the mind and the body good!

I have to add a disclaimer here since I know that some people don’t necessarily have a healthy relationship with exercise. When I say picture the end results, I do not mean cut out some pictures of models and post them to your fridge. This does not help since each body is different so you literally will never look like that model. Our goal should be to strive for our own personal best while cutting ourselves some slack since we are human and imperfect. Remember that God loves you just the way you are and He did not make a mistake when he formed your unique body!

Let’s discuss:

What are some ways you motivate yourself to work out?

What is your favorite form of exercise?

 

Originally posted 2013-10-17 16:49:36.

Tips for Healthier Baking

healthier baking tips6 Ways to Make Treats Healthier

I am an avid baker. I grew up helping my mom create her famous chocolate chip cookies and even had the recipe memorized at one point in time. Since then I’ve loved experimenting with different flavors and combinations of cookies, muffins and breads.

What’s really fun though is experimenting with healthier substitutions. Try to use one of the following in your next baking excursion.

1. Beans.

Yep, beans in your baked goods. Puree some beans to sneak in some extra fiber and protein into your treats. Black bean brownies go over quite well in my experience. You will want to make sure if you are using beans from a can that you drain and rinse them well in order to better disguise these legumes in your recipe.

2. Whole wheat flour.

Whole wheat is the less processed version of white flour. The general consensus is that the less processed foods are, the better they are for you since they retain much of the original nutrients. Try substituting half of the white flour with whole wheat flour. The flavor and consistency will change if you substitute all whole wheat because of the higher amount of gluten that forms. The higher the gluten that forms, the tougher the product will be so use caution when subbing whole wheat flour.

3. Bananas.

This potassium-packed fruit can be substituted for the butter in a recipe. About one pureed banana per stick of butter or ½ cup of oil. You can also use a little less sugar since bananas are naturally sweet. Just don’t omit the sugar completely since it has a scientific purpose in the recipe. The resulting baked good will have a fluffier consistency, so keep that in mind when substituting in a cookie recipe. I’ve made banana cookies before that were really more similar to muffin tops. I didn’t hear a single complaint though!

4. Applesauce.

Applesauce is very similar to bananas in substitution except for the flavor. It can be substituted for the fat and you can also reduce the sugar due to the natural sweetness of the apples.

5. Greek yogurt.

Adding Greek yogurt to your baking treats will add protein as well as calcium. I have directly substituted plain or vanilla Greek yogurt in cake and muffin recipes, but the texture was a little sticky. Luckily, Chobani sent me an infographic to show how to substitute Greek yogurt for the fats or oils in a dessert. For every cup of oil in the recipe, substitute ¾ cup of Greek yogurt. For every cup of butter, keep ½ cup of the butter and add ¼ cup Greek yogurt.

6. Chia seeds.

These nutrient-packed seeds can be substituted for the eggs in a recipe by creating a chia gel. Simply mix 1 TBS chia seeds with 2 TBS warm water per egg in a bowl and let set for a couple of minutes. The chia seeds will absorb the water and create a thick gel that will bind your ingredients together like the eggs would.  Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also a great a good choice for making vegan recipes.

So what do you say? Is it time to have some fun in the kitchen and make your desserts a little healthier? Try not telling people your treats are healthy and watching as they scarf down your creation. Then tell them how it’s actually semi-healthy and watch their amazement. Happy Baking!

Let’s discuss:

Do you substitute in your baking? What do you use?

Sources:

How to Bake with Chobani Greek Yogurt + Infographic

Originally posted 2013-10-08 11:36:32.

How 'bout green tea?

Green Tea health benefits

Green tea is showing up everywhere these days from face wash and shampoo, to energy drinks. Though green tea’s health benefits have been known in the Eastern hemisphere for thousands of years, recent research is confirming these benefits and revealing what makes green tea so effective.

History of Green Tea

Green tea, black tea, white tea and oolong tea all come from the same species of plant camellia sinesis. These are actually the only teas that can officially be called tea. Each tea has a unique flavor, color and properties depending on the way it is processed.

Green tea is very minimally processed and has been used as a medicine in China for over 4000 years. Green tea has been used to treat depression, digestive issues and nervous conditions. Due to the findings of modern research, green tea has become popular in the Western Hemisphere as well. 

Health Benefits of Green Tea

Green tea can boost metabolism. Green tea’s catechins, in combination with its moderate caffeine content, can help you burn fat more quickly.

Green tea helps prevent heart disease. A Harvard Health study found that those who drank the most green tea had a 28% lower risk of coronary artery disease.  The antioxidants in green tea help lower Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and boost High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Green tea improves exercise endurance. Since the catechins in green tea boost the body’s ability to use fat as fuel, this helps improve your body’s muscular endurance. The antioxidants in green tea also help the body’s muscles recover more quickly.

Green tea helps prevent diabetes. Green tea can help regulate glucose levels by slowing the rise of blood sugar after eating a meal, in turn preventing insulin spikes.

Green tea reduces the risk of cancer. The antioxidants are thought to fight free radicals that may cause cancer.

Green tea reduces acne. Green tea’s catechins have also been found to fight the bacteria that grow in the skin’s pores and cause acne. 

Green tea helps fight wrinkles and the signs of aging. Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, green tea reduces sun damage to the skin when applied topically.

Nutrition Highlights

  • 0 calories
  • 0g fat
  • 0mg sodium
  • 0g carbohydrates

Considerations

As with most things in life, moderation is key. According to a Harvard Health study, the catechins found in green tea have been reported to raise liver enzymes in animals. Green tea is also a source of oxalates which can cause kidney stones. If you have a history of kidney stones, it would probably be a good idea to stick with less than five cups of green tea per day.

Drink up

I enjoy hot, decaffeinated green tea in the evening with some honey, but it’s also delicious cold.  To make iced green tea, simply brew your tea as usual, then refrigerate  for 30 minutes (make sure to remove the tea bag before refrigerating, as the bitter qualities increase with time). After refrigerating, add some ice cubes, a straw, and a drizzle of honey (if  desired).

ReferencesThe Green Tea Revolution on Random HistoryThe Miracle of Green Tea on About.comBenefit of drinking green tea.. on Harvard Health PublicationGreen tea may lower heart disease risk on Harvard Health Publication13 Reasons Tea is Good for You on Time Health & Family

Originally posted 2013-10-07 15:37:14.

Cross-Training for Runners

You might be training for a big race and need to run x number of miles a week. Or maybe you just love running, and that’s the only type of exercise you want to do.  The thing is, your running muscles need regular rest to perform at their best. Cross-training is an effective way to rest your running muscles and avoid injury, while maximizing your running performance.

Cross-training helps build balanced muscle function. Using the same muscle groups over and over can create weaknesses in the supporting muscles that increase the chance of injury. Cross-training also helps to change up your routine so that you don’t get bored of running half-way through your training (believe me, it happens to the best of us!).

So what kind of things can you do to cross-train? A variety of activities! Don’t over think it! Check out this list and find a couple of options that you would enjoy doing the most, so that you don’t dread your cross-training days but actually look forward to them.

1. Elliptical. This is a pretty standard form of cross-training, since it was built to simulate the movement of running without putting so much strain on your joints. You can usually adjust the settings to target specific areas of the legs. While exercising on the elliptical machine, it can also be fun to put on your favorite show or read an interesting magazine to help time pass more enjoyably. (See Gym Fears and Misconceptions if you struggle with heading indoors to workout)

2. Dancing. Join a Zumba class, get out on the dance floor at a wedding, or turn up the music in the privacy of your own home. I decided that all the dancing I recently did at two weddings in one weekend should count as some serious exercise (think super dorky wedding line dancing and jumping up and down to songs like YMCA)!  I calculated that my small frame still burned 300 calories per hour dancing, so if you’re of average size, then you’ll burn even more calories when you get your groove on.

3. Strength training. Using free-weights or doing bodyweight exercises are both great ways to target specific supporting muscles for running and should be done 1-2 times per week along-side running. (See 5 Great Strength Training Moves for Runners)

4. Biking. Biking is a great complement to running because it isn’t hard on the knees, and it helps to build up the muscles in your quads. You can choose between riding an indoor stationary bike or getting outdoors, depending on the weather or your mood!

5. Swimming. I’m not an avid swimmer myself, but the awesome thing about jumping in the water is that even if you’re walking around in a waist-deep pool, your muscles are still getting torched due to the extra resistance.

6. Walking. Walking is basically the same motion as running, only easier on the knees. Walking medium to long distances (the number of miles depends on the race you are training for or your comfort level with distance running) helps to build endurance in your legs. Depending on how quickly you’re going, walking can build your cardiovascular endurance as well. I prefer taking walks outdoors when I can, but walking on a treadmill makes it fairly easy to multi-task by reading a magazine or good book (just make sure you have good balance and that you use the safety clip).

Whenever you’re cross-training, always try to make your workout about as intense or as long as a week-day run would be.  Devoting just as much energy to a cross-training session as you would to a run, will help you build the cardiovascular endurance or strength that will support your running ability.

If you haven’t integrated any of the above cross-training activities into your weekly routine, pick a couple to try for the next few weeks.   Then, track your running times and see how your performance has improved!

Questions:

1. Are you training for a race right now? Which one?

2. Which of the above options will you choose to integrate into your workouts this week?

Originally posted 2013-09-30 16:41:54.