Summer Superfoods to eat this season

Now that summer is finally here, it’s time to load up on the fresh fruits and veggies that it brings. While all fruits and veggies are good for you, there are some that are cut above the rest, which is why these are referred to as “superfoods.” These nutrient packed treats are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants to help you have the healthiest summer yet.

Kiwi: With more potassium than a banana, and 3 times less sugar than an apple, kiwis are the perfect summer treat for when you need something sweet. With only 7 grams of sugar and 5 grams of fiber per medium fruit, kiwi is one fruit to add to the table all summer long.

Spinach: Loaded with calcium, vitamin D, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, spinach should be a staple throughout the summer months. Throw a handful into your salad bowl, or sauté some in the morning with your eggs to create a nutrient packed breakfast.

Blueberries: Summer is one of the best times to get fresh blueberries, and here’s why you should take advantage of it. They are a great source of vitamin K, vitamin C, manganese and resveratrol, a potent anti-oxidant. And with only 41 calories per half cup, they are a low calorie sweet treat to enjoy all summer long.

Watermelon: With high levels of Vitamin A and C, watermelon makes the perfect low calorie, low sugar snack. Watermelon has also been shown to possibly help reduce blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cauliflower: Many people avoid this white veggie, but with so many great benefits, it’s time to stop avoiding. Cauliflower is packed with glucosinolates, which have been proven to lower the risk of cancer and protect the body from carcinogens. For people who are gluten free, cauliflower is a great substitute for making breads and pizza crusts.

Now that summer is here, the fresh fruits and veggies will be available by the truckload. Take this time to try something new, add some extra vegetables to your diet, or try a new recipe. It’s time to start reaping the benefits of these health packed foods!

 

Patrick Scott, M.S., C.S.C.S.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Summer Fitness

With summer fast approaching, and the heat that comes along with it, exercising can start to become a challenge. No one wants to be outside when it’s 85 degrees and humid, but no one wants to be inside while the sun is shining. So what to do? Here are some do’s and don’ts of summer fitness to stay safe and successful this season.

DO hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate

When it comes to summer exercise, water and hydration are going to be essential to your performance. Studies have shown that just a 2% dehydration can cause a 20% decrease in performance. Experts recommend taking the “lemonade test” to see if you are hydrated. While using the bathroom, your urine should have the color of pale lemonade. If it is a strong yellow color, or has a strong odor, chances are you are dehydrated. Try drinking 15-20oz of water 2-3 hours before exercise, and an additional 8oz of water every 10-20 minutes during exercise in warm weather.

DON’T protein load before exercise

Studies have shown that a meal high in protein before an exercise session can actually raise the bodies basal temperature, making it harder to stay cool in warm weather. This is because protein is harder for the body to digest. Experts recommend instead drinking an iced sports drink or slushie. Cooling the body’s internal temp prior to an exercise session in warm weather can help improve performance and keep the body cooler for longer. Try an iced or frozen Gatorade 30 minutes prior to exercise.

DO dress properly

When it comes to warm weather workouts, the tightest fitting clothes you have are probably not the best choice. Your body needs all the help it can get in staying cool, and extra airflow helps. Tight and form fitting clothes restrict airflow around the body. Instead opt for loose fitting, dri-fit clothes. These help to wick the sweat away from your body, keeping it cool.  Also avoid cotton, it will soak up moisture and hold it like a sponge; avoid at all costs.

DO be flexible with workout times

If you look at the forecast, and it is scheduled to be 100 degrees right when you were planning on going for that run, your best option is to reschedule for another time of the day. Plan ahead for the week; if you see it is going to be a hot week, plan on getting up early or working out late when the sun is not at its peak intensity.  Keep a flexible exercise schedule, even if it means missing out on something else.

DO listen to your body

Heat stroke and heat related illnesses are a serious concern when it comes to summer exercise. Don’t be afraid to cut a workout short, or go at a slower pace. Some warning signs include flushed skin, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, confusion and cessation of sweating. If any of these things start happening to you, jump into a COOL, not ice, bath to gradually lower body temperature to a safe point. Heat stroke is very serious and potentially deadly, don’t ignore the warning signs.   

 

 

Three Rules for Rapid Weight Loss This Summer

Have an event coming up soon that you need to slim down for? Is wedding season right around the corner and you need to shed a quick 5 pounds? Here’s 3 rules to follow for quick weight loss.

Rule #1: Eliminate all starchy carbs.

Things like breads, pastas, potatoes, and rice. These types of foods can cause your body to retain water, making the scale rise. Also, when you eat starchy carbs, the body starts to release insulin to remove the glucose from your bloodstream. If the glucose isn’t being burned through exercise, it is getting stored as fat instead. Eliminating starchy carbs for fast weight loss.

Rule #2: Limit fruit to 1-2 servings per day.

As healthy as fruit can be, the naturally high sugar content can really slow weight loss. Instead, stick to veggies, which are much lower in calories and just as nutrient dense.

Rule #3: Eliminate all added and artificial sugar.

This is similar to the starchy carbs rule. The more sugar we eat, the more insulin is released, the more gets stored as fat. Try eliminating all added and artificial sugars and sweeteners for a fast weight drop.

Keep in mind this is not a diet plan that can be sustained for an extended period. These rules are meant for a short 2-3 week period. When you are ready to return to normal eating, stick to as whole grain as possible with your breads and pastas!

Screaming for Ice Cream? Here’s an alternative:

As good as that big bowl of ice cream tastes, it is best enjoyed in moderation. But if you can’t resist the sweet tooth, here’s a healthier alternative for you: Frozen bananas!

Take about 3 very ripe bananas. “Very ripe” is key here; the more ripe the banana the sweeter it will taste. Slice the bananas into 1/4″ slices and freeze them until they are solid.

Once the bananas are frozen, you are ready to go. Take the bananas from the freezer and dump them into a blender. Add 1/2 cup of almond milk (adjust based on how thick you want your banana ice cream; less milk will be a little thicker). Blend until well mixed and there are no more banana chunks left. Scoop out of blender and enjoy!

This is a gluten free, lactose free alternative to ice cream, and tastes fantastic. If the bananas aren’t enough for you, try topping it with some dark chocolate chips or strawberries. Enjoy!

Spring is here; let’s get back to nutrition basics.

With the craze of the New Year resolutions over, are you starting to see the results you wanted? If the answer is no, maybe it’s time to get back to basics.

With so many diet trends and eating routines out there, it is hard to know which will work the best for you. No matter what program or diet you choose, there are a few basic rules that are common among them. These are recommendations that can be followed as part of a lifestyle change, not just a New Year fad.

First rule: Limit starchy carbs. Most every diet trend will tell you breads and pastas are the enemy of any successful weight loss routine. They can still be enjoyed on occasion, just try and limit them to only on occasion.

Second rule: Eat Breakfast: Every nutritionist you talk to will tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Countless studies have been done showing the benefits of starting your day with some food, from lower body weight, improved weight loss, and better energy throughout the day.

Third Rule: Vegetables; eat them: Veggies are your friends, and they should be eaten with nearly every meal. They are great sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber all while being low calorie. They help you feel fuller for longer and avoid the vending machine temptations.

Fourth Rule: It’s okay to cheat! Many people go crazy when it comes to their diets. Don’t let that birthday cake ruin everything. Acknowledge it and get back on track the next day. You can do it.

Stick to these basics and you’ll be back on track in no time!

Should I wait to check my weight?

For many people, they have a dream weight they would like to get to; prewedding weight, pre-baby weight, high school weight, or even their current weight. Whatever that number may be, pretty much everyone has one. And for many fitness programs these days, how much you weigh and how much weight lost has become the “gold standard” for progress. As important as a number on a scale can be, it is certainly not the only measure for success. And with so many factors influencing your scale weight, it can often be misleading.

Pretty much everything you do and put into your body will affect your body weight on a day to day basis. How much water you drink, how much you slept, how many times you go to the bathroom all play a role in day to day weight change. Even something as simple as having more salt in your diet one day compared to another can change the scale. Salty and carbohydrate filled foods can cause the body to hold a little extra water, causing the scale to go up. For all of these reasons, it is best to weigh yourself on a week to week basis instead of a day to day basis. For more accurate results, weigh first thing in the morning before you have had a chance to eat and drink. The comparison of week to week weigh-ins will be a far better measure of progress compared to day to day weigh-ins.

Another thing to keep in mind; for people just starting a workout routine, the scale will tend to increase not decrease at the end of their first or even second week. This happens because your body starts to hold onto extra water to help your muscles heal. The muscles become inflamed and swollen due to the breakdown of tissue during exercise, which leads to weight gain. Have no fear, this will go away after a few weeks.

Don’t forget about all of the other, sometimes even better, measures of success. Numbers such as inches, body fat percentage, weight increases on your strength exercises, even number of push-ups you can do are all valuable pieces of information and great measures of progress and success.  These numbers are less susceptible to fluctuations and can be a more consistent measure of success of body weight.

Fitness the Family can Enjoy

With the hectic schedule for kids in today’s world, physical activity and exercise is slowly disappearing. Physical Education classes in schools are cutting cut, video games and computers are becoming more and more popular, and the increasing school work load is causing kids to sit more and move less. And with more and more research surfacing about the benefits of physical activity and brain function, this trend to the couch is troubling. Luckily, there are a few easy steps you can take to get kids moving.

  1. Enroll in a class or activity: This can be anything from soccer and basketball teams, to dance, karate, or gymnastics. Anything to get kids moving. By enrolling in activities like these, it forces your kids to be active at least once or twice a week. Sometimes a schedule can be your best friend.
  2. Limit the screen time and schedule outdoor time: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children under 2 years old have no screen time, and children 2 and older limit screen time to 2 hours a day of quality programming. With the advancement of parental controls on nearly all devices, controlling your child’s screen time has become easier than ever. In addition, try to schedule one hour a day to be active as a family. Going to the park, playing catch, or taking bike rides are all great family activities.
  3. Reward active behavior, but not with food: Positive reinforcement for children can help to build a lifelong passion for fitness. However, be cautious when rewarding activity with sweets and junk food. Instead, try rewarding with an extra 30 minutes of play time, an extra trip to the basketball courts, or even an extra 20 minutes of screen time.
  4. Set a good example: Your kids want to be like you, walk like you, and talk like you. Why not get them to exercise like you too? As the role model for your kids, show them that fitness and exercise can be fun and enjoyable, rather than painful and miserable. And who knows, you may even find yourself enjoying exercise a little more when the family is involved.

Remember,   the cognitive benefits of exercise are not just limited to kids and young adults. Adults and seniors can benefit just as much! Whatever your motivation or method is, just remember to keep moving and have fun doing it as a family.