This topic is near and dear to my heart. I am all about eating for health and not just reducing calories and exercising compulsively in order to lose weight. While it may not be fast, if you are consistent with a balanced eating and exercise routine I assure you that you will not only notice an improvement in your energy and outlook on life but you will notice a change in your body composition.
I hope you enjoy my latest Iron Girl article from the FREE newsletter.
Eating for Health
One month into the New Year and you are making great progress with your goals of balanced and healthy eating, daily physical activity and/or consistency with training.
As you take the steps to reach your goal weight, maintain your weight or push a little harder to achieve performance gains, it is valuable to your well being that you are equally committed to your health. While healthy eating and daily exercise will certainly help to achieve your recommended body composition, there are many foods that will do wonders to support a long and quality filled life. Rather than calling attention to all of the unhealthy aspects of your diet, start focusing on foods that will provide healthy nutrients for both your workouts and your health. As you incorporate or replace foods in the diet, learn to appreciate the value of nutrient-rich foods.
The following are healthy swaps that will improve your eating routine.
For a healthy fat:
Instead of stick margarine (1 tbsp: 101 calories, 11g fat, 2g saturated fat, 3g trans fat)try olive oil (1 tbsp: 120 calories, 14g fat, 2g saturated fat).
It is important to note that even if you eliminate stick margarine and butter, it's not guaranteed that your diet will be trans-fat free. Through the process of hydrogenation, liquid oil turns to a solid, producing a trans fatty acid. Replacing foods high in partially hydrogenated oils, with an alternative healthy fat or oil, is shown to reduce the risk for coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease (1).
Although many manufactures list products containing less than 0.5g of trans fat per serving as "trans-fat free," processed foods and bakery items, such as chips, muffins and cookies, are still likely to contain trans fat in order to extend shelf life. If a food lists "partially hydrogenated" or "hydrogenated" in the ingredients label, and you are consuming more than one serving per sitting, it is likely that you are consuming trans fats in the diet.
Olive oil is 72 percent monounsaturated (compared to 24 percent in corn oil) and may help to lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol (HDL). Although all types of olive oil provide antioxidant-containing properties, extra virgin olive oil is recommended due to the limited amount of processing when obtaining the oil from olives.
Cooking Tip: On a non-stick baking sheet, drizzle ½ - 1 tbsp olive oil over thinly sliced sweet potatoes. Toss with hands. Season with cinnamon for a sweet fry or paprika, pepper and cayenne pepper for a spicy fry. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
For a healthy carb:
Instead of Bush's Baked Beans (1 cup: 280 calories, 1100mg sodium, 58g carbs, 10g fiber, 24g sugar and 12g protein) try Goya Low-sodium Chickpeas (1 cup: 200 calories, 240mg sodium, 40g carbs, 14g fiber, 0g sugar and 12g protein).
The secret to Bush's baked beans may as well be brown sugar and sugar, common items for improving taste while prolonging shelf life.
While beans provide an excellent source of fiber and carbohydrates, the sugars in baked means make it a less-nutritious choice. Instead, try chickpeas, which offer a nutty and buttery-like taste when cooked or puréed. These beans are high in soluble fibers and can help to reduce cholesterol levels and promote a feeling of fullness at meals. They are also rich in antioxidants and are low on the glycemic index, which is great for your athletic lifestyle.
Cooking Tip: Drain chickpeas and blend the following together in blender or food processor: 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) w/ 3 tbsp lemon juice, 1 ½ tbsp tahini (often found in the ethnic food aisle, or Asian section, of the grocery store), 2 crushed cloves of garlic and 1 ½ tbsp olive oil. Slowly add ¼ cup water (in spoonful increments) as you blend for three to four minutes. Stop adding water when smooth. Serve your homemade hummus with homemade pita chips (toasted pita bread).
For a healthy protein:
Instead of Edy's Grand Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream (1 cup: 240 calories, 18g fat, 12g saturated fat, 50mg cholesterol, 30g sugar, 6g protein) try Oikos Organic Plain Greek Yogurt (1 cup: 130 calories, 0g fat, 9g sugar, 22g protein).
Typical ingredients for ice cream include cream, milk, sugar, partially hydrogenated oil, corn syrup, flavorings, dyes and salt. Even if the first ingredient in your favorite ice cream reads 'skim milk,' it is important to choose a slow churned, no-sugar added or low-fat ice cream over a higher calorie alternative. This will reduce calories, fat and/or sugar per serving. Additionally, while ice cream may taste great after a hot workout, be mindful that a single serving of ice cream is ½ cup.
Greek yogurt is creamy like ice cream but lower in sugar, carbohydrates and calories than most yogurts (frozen or refrigerated). Greek yogurt differs from regular yogurt in that the whey in milk is filtered out after the milk is heated and cultured, resulting in a delicious thick, dense and slightly acidic treat. Both Greek and low-fat yogurt include healthy bacteria and cultures, such as lactobacillus bulgaricus, streptococcus thermophilus and lactobacillus acidophilus, which are beneficial for your immune system and intestinal system. Considering that both probiotic-enhanced and conventional yogurts contain antioxidant-properties beneficial for the immune system, stock your fridge with a variety of low-fat yogurts for a perfect post-workout protein snack (2).
Cooking tip: Sprinkle 2 tbsp of your favorite chopped nut (almond, walnut, cashew or peanut) over 6 ounces of low-fat Greek yogurt in a coffee mug. Add ¼ cup sliced fruit (berries, melon, banana, oranges, pears, etc.) and 1/8 cup of your favorite cereal or granola and stir for a yummy mixed parfait.
1) Mozaffarian, D. and Clarke, R. (2009). Quantitative effects on cardiovascular risk factors and coronary heart disease risk or replacing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils with other fats and oils. Eur J. Clin. Nutr., 63(Suppl 2): S220in
2) Fabian, E. and Elmadfa, I. (2007). The effect of daily consumption of probiotic and conventional yoghurt on oxidant and anti-oxidant parameters in plasma of young healthy women. Int. J. Vitam. Nutr. Res. 77(2): 79-88.
Marni holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and holds a certification by the American Dietetic Association in Adult Weight Management. Marni is a Level-1 USAT Coach and is currently pursuing a registered dietician degree. She is a 2007 Ford Ironman World Championship finisher and finished the Ford Ironman Louisville Triathlon on Aug. 30, 2009, in less than 11 hours. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes monthly to IronGirl.com and Beginnertriathlete.com.
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