What Not to Eat After a Workout

Here I am on Day 5 of my Gluten-Free meal plan.  Aside from going through bread-withdrawal, I imagine I’m doing okay overall.  Weigh-in is on Monday morning and even with the exercise, I don’t feel much has changed.  However, I’m hopeful that if I keep it up, something is bound to make a difference, one way or another.

I came across an interesting article today about what NOT to eat after a workout.  That thought never really crossed my mind.  After reading what Dina Aronson, RD had to say on Ivillage.com about this topic, I thought I’d summarize her findings.  Too bad my workouts aren’t strenuous enough to break a sweat; at least not for the time being.  Maybe I’m not pushing myself enough.  I’ll add a few extra reps or minutes with the jump rope tomorrow.  For now, here are a few pointers:

Foods to Avoid after a Workout

High-Sugar Energy Bars.  They may cause a spike in blood sugar.  Try low-fat yogurt with fruit instead.

Raw vegetables.  They aren’t substantial enough to help your muscles recover, keep your metabolism active or maintain energy levels.  If you want to snack on them, eat with hummus or yogurt dip.

Cheese is usually processed and high in saturated fat.  An alternative would be cheese-flavored soy chips.

Soda and fruit drinks.  Need I say more; may as well drink battery acid.  Sugar spikes blood levels and artificial sweeteners trick the body into craving more sugar.  Try iced herbal tea or water with fresh lemon or lime for a refreshing drink.

Salty snacks disrupt the body’s water/salt balance.  Low-sodium baked chips would be a better substitute.

Bread.  Here we go.  I didn’t even want to mention it.  I’m such a bread addict, it kills me not to be able to have it.  Bread has starch that quickly turns to sugar.  Choose a nutrient packed whole grain tortilla or bread slice with a little nut butter and a few banana slices instead.  Gluten-free choices are also available from health food stores.

Pizza.  Again, similar to bread dough, pizza has too much saturated fat and salt, not to mention white flour with little nutrition.  Try half a whole grain English muffin or pita with some sautéed veggies and a sprinkle of low-sodium cheese.  I’ll pass on gluten-free brands because they’re packed with additives and sugar as well as being expensive.

Candy or Chocolate.  We all know candy elevates blood sugar levels after a workout.  If you crave chocolate, have a piece of dark chocolate or a glass of skim chocolate milk (regular or almond).

Cereal.  Again, some contain too much sugar.  Substitute 1/4 cup low-sugar granola with fruit and nuts; no-sugar-added trail mix with 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk; or a 1/2 serving of unsweetened plain cereal, like shredded wheat or Grape Nuts.  I’ll skip all together for now.

Doughnuts and Pastries.  I know, but these were also on the list of foods to avoid, like we wouldn’t know that!  They’re high in saturated fat and sugar.  Try whole-wheat toast and peanut butter instead.

Pancakes.  Old fashioned ones sure taste great but between the white flour and typical toppings of syrup, butter and powdered sugar, fuggetaboutit!  Go for whole- grain, oatmeal or buckwheat pancakes toppings like bananas, blueberries, and strawberries, or toast a whole-grain frozen waffle served with nut butter and a few banana slices.  Again, there are gluten-free varieties but one needs to be careful for an overload of additives.

Fried eggs.  Anything fried contains too much saturated fat.  Try boiled eggs (I keep several hard boiled on hand in my fridge regularly) or an egg-white omelet with a few chopped veggies (sans butter) instead.

French fries.  Sounds counterproductive to exercise and then have French fries.  But they are a weakness of mine.  Thinking “grease” will make you change your mind.  Half a baked white or sweet potato with a tiny scoop of black beans and salsa would be a better choice.

Smoothies.   I love smoothies, especially after working out.  However, you’ll need to replace juice with skim or low-fat milk, regular or almond, some frozen berries or ½ banana with a small handful of walnuts, cashews, almonds or unsalted pistachios.  Blend well.

Bacon & Other Processed Meats.  These can be linked with the other foods high in salt and saturated fat. Try a fresh turkey or chicken wrap either in lettuce leaves or in a whole grain pita with tomatoes and a little seasoning.  Stay away from cold cuts or processed meat though.

After putting all the effort into maximizing a workout session, the last thing you would want to do is replace all the calories you just burned with unhealthy food.  Although it didn’t sound like I had many options, most of the above foods are readily available in my refrigerator and pantry.  I spent almost $20 more on my grocery bill last week from purchasing specific gluten-free products which seem to be extremely overpriced. 

Sixteen days remain.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  Now, if I could only have just one OREO cookie!

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The Gluten-Free Controversy Continues…

After all my research and choosing to follow a gluten-free diet for 3 weeks in an effort to alleviate digestive discomfort, I read the following article from HuffPost Healthy Living,dated July 31, 2012:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/30/gluten-free-diets-and-cel_n_1721467.html

I like to keep an eye on Mayo Clinic reports, although they are not the only resource I investigate.  The study claims that the majority of people adhering to a gluten-free diet either do not have Celiac disease or were never tested for it (like me) and chose a gluten-free diet believing it would help with the common symptoms associated with the disease such as, bloating, diarrhea, headaches and chronic fatigue.

Again, I’m still in the developmental phase of my nutrition/exercise plan, based solely on my individual lifestyle, medical issues, and the like.  I’m not surprised by the article especially where it indicates that those people who tested negative for Celiac disease do in fact experience “non-celiac gluten sensitivity.”  At the end of October, I’ll be able to decide if removing gluten from my diet has helped my digestive difficulties, primarily bloating and an overall feeling of abdominal discomfort.

Check out one of the GF Main Meal recipes below…

In addition to the formulating a 7-day meal plan which I’ll stick with for the 3 weeks; I’m incorporating exercise into my design.  My goal is several 15-20 minute exercise routines throughout the day.  This will help break up a normally tedious hour-long workout and I expect will also help maintain my energy on a more consistent level.

I realize it would perhaps make more sense to be properly tested (blood test and bowel tissue biopsy) before engaging in a completely gluten-free diet however I am not fond of the type of testing required; I don’t care for needles and haven’t had my first colonoscopy yet.  Additionally, gluten-free diets are not designed to help people lose weight which is what I really prefer to do.  My rationalization is that I’d rather deal with the abdominal discomfort issue first and then select a meal plan based on the results of prohibiting gluten from my diet.  The second phase of my goal is choosing foods that will help me lose weight as well as address other medical concerns I have.

First things first; I’m going to enjoy this coming weekend in NC with my family.  Upon my return, the real work will begin.  I have to say I’m looking forward to my experiment.  It’s only for 3 weeks.  I’m ready and willing, albeit apprehensive, to take on this challenge and make my evaluation.  This is the worst time of the year for me to be making dietary changes, with the holidays approaching.  It will be a true test of my fortitude, I can tell you that.  We will just have to wait and see!

“I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.” ~ Author Unknown

Beef and Green Beans (Slow Cooker)

 Ingredients
  • 3 pounds chuck roast
  • 1/3 cup rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 16 ounces frozen slender green beans
Instructions
  1. Cut the roast in to strips about 3/4 inch wide. Trim most of the fat.
  2. Combine the strips of roast, flour, salt and pepper in a greased 6 quart or larger slow cooker. If using a smaller cooker, cut the recipe in half.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to mix them together.
  4. Cover and cook on low 6 – 8 hours or high 3 – 4 hours.
  5. Serve with rice or pasta.

To Be or Not To Be – Gluten Free

Humans are creatures of habit.  I believe that because I generally wake up each morning at the same time and go through my routine like clockwork.  There is a comfortable rhythm to it and I could probably go through all those motions in the first fifteen minutes with my eyes closed.  What happens when my routine is interrupted?  It seems to throw the whole morning off. 

 It’s the same with any change though.  For the past year or two I’ve noticed changes in my body that, while minor, are nonetheless disturbing.  Did I mention it to my doctor at my annual check-up?  No, because I didn’t feel it was important enough.  I got a clean bill of health after my blood test results came back so why ask questions?  The fact that I feel bloated all the time must be because I drink coffee in the morning.  The reason I make so many trips to the bathroom during the day is because I drink a lot of water.  I feel full after a small meal because I had too much fiber.  I offered many excuses for the reason I wasn’t feeling my best and was slowly gaining weight every couple of years; I was “getting older.”

 Being a creature of habit, I did not want to change my routine.  However, after making mental notes and eventually keeping a journal, I noticed my digestive problems were directly related to either certain foods I ate, when I ate them or how much I consumed.  Before reporting these findings to my doctor, I chose to play detective.  If I changed what I ate, when and how much I ate, I should be able to determine which of the foods I consumed on a regular basis is the culprit.

 My first attempt at discovery was trying Activia brand yogurt.  The claim on their website http://www.activia.us.com/ is that Activia “is made with the exclusive probiotic culture, Bifidus Regularis® (Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173 010) and can help naturally regulate your digestive system.”  After two weeks, I actually felt worse, so that didn’t work.  Then I tried to eliminate cheese, ice cream and other milk products from my diet to see if I was still Lactose-intolerant as I had been throughout my teens and twenties.  Two weeks later, no change.  My third trial will begin the first week of October when I’m back from a short vacation and more able to carefully assess what I eat and how it affects me.

 This third experiment concerns gluten.  The reason I may be having digestive problems could be that I have Celiac Disease.  “Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001280/

With the help of a registered dietitian, I intend to follow a gluten-free diet for three weeks.  We are developing a meal plan which takes into account information from medical journals, research studies and scholarly reports. 

 I first heard of this disease from a baker on a segment of a Martha Stewart show.  She described how she was diagnosed with Celiac disease several years prior and created a cookbook with dessert recipes which were gluten-free.  Shortly thereafter, I heard one of “The View” talk show hosts speak of her ordeal with the disease.  I thought to myself, this may be the ailment I have.  The only way of knowing for sure without having to undergo formal testing is take the route similar to allergy testing.  I am going to avoid foods containing gluten for three weeks and see if I notice a change.  Then I will contact my physician and advise him of my findings.

 Here comes the difficult part.  As previously mentioned, it is tough to change a habit or routine.  I’ll need to stay positive and focus on how good I’ll feel once I eliminate gluten from my diet if in fact gluten is the cause of my problems.  Personally, the most challenging part will be avoiding bread, cakes, cookies, pasta, salad dressing, sauces and soups plus a few other food products.  That pretty much covers everything I’m used to eating.

 In order for me to feel better, I’ll need to be committed to change.  Replacing foods in my diet with those my digestive tract can handle will ultimately help me achieve optimum health.  I am still not certain I do have Celiac disease.  On the other hand, what could be so bad about revising my diet for three weeks?  If it doesn’t work, I can always revert to my prior dietary habits.

 In the meantime, I’m having fun putting together a variety of meals that I’ll enjoy making and eating.  I am equipped with an arsenal of cookbooks and products specially designed for those who must follow a restricted gluten-free diet.  One drawback to this plan is that it is more expensive.  Foods that are marketed to the “health conscious” generally cost more.  Time will tell if my little investigative plan succeeds and so will my waistline.  I’m hoping for the best.

 “Perseverance, secret of all triumphs.”  ~ Victor Hugo

Whose Body is That and Why is it Wearing My Head?

It was almost two years ago that I took a straightforward review of my naked body in the mirror.  Weird, I know.  It looked okay then; maybe just a little bit larger than it was the last time I checked; and when was that?   Probably the last time I went away on vacation: 

to a lake house, with my family, where I wore a bathing suit…in 200? 

The fact is, I don’t spend loads of time checking out my body in the mirror.  Usually I find just enough time each morning to shower, fix my hair and make-up, put on some clean clothes and begin my day.  So imagine my surprise when I decided to do an accurate assessment of my body recently.  Something(s) changed over the past few years (biggest hint… my clothes weren’t fitting properly) and I wasn’t pleased.

Fortunately, I’ve always been interested in the benefits of proper nutrition and exercise.  Those are the core ingredients of longevity.   However, as we mature (which sounds nicer than “age”), our bodies go through a series of changes.  These are inevitable.  Not even Joan Rivers can deny that fact.  My focus is on what changes need to be made and how I plan to accomplish these changes.  I’ll start by affirming that everyone is different and no diet or exercise plan is right for each person.  In addition, physical ability, medical condition, environment, emotional health and even financial position are issues that must be carefully examined prior to selecting an appropriate plan if one is to achieve long lasting success. 

It took me a decade to be where I am today; and I dutifully earned every spot and wrinkle that may appear to the naked eye.  The changes that took place within me did so gradually so I can’t expect a miracle overnight.  I needed to assess a few things before embarking on this journey into developing a method of making a committed change; similar to the “Biggest Loser” but without all the drama and fleeting fame and fortune attached.   Personally, I want to lose about 15 lbs. and tighten/strengthen my muscles.  But these pounds have been difficult to lose so far and I’m currently unable and unwilling to spend money on a gym membership.

I researched countless diets, meal plans, online programs and the like for a long time and have found all these plans to be lacking in certain areas.  Very few of them are individualized.  It may be well to divide people into categories for age and health conditions which the majority of programs do but that leaves out some crucial factors that, without given proper consideration, puts followers at a disadvantage.

I subscribe to numerous newsletters regarding this subject however I did not expect to discover the massive amount of propaganda marketed to the public.  On one site alone (I won’t mention the publisher), they had 210 books, journals and DVD’s, in their media repertoire.  Here are only a few of the titles I found:

  •  Big Book of 15 minute workouts
  • The Belly Melt Diet
  • Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight
  • Slim Calm Sexy Diet
  • Turn Up Your Fat Burn
  • Grill This Not That
  • The 17 Day Diet Expanded Edition
  • The Vitamin D Diet
  • The Carb Sensitivity Program
  • Eat This, Not That! 2013
  • Cook Yourself Sexy
  • 7 Day Slim Down
  • The Hunger Fix
  • Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight Journal
  • The Paleo Diet for Athletes
  • The New! Abs Diet for Men
  • 400 Calorie Fix
  • Walk Off Weight
  • Turn Up Your Fat Burn
  • Flat Belly Diet
  • And so on – 210 total!
  • LL Cool J Platinum 360 Diet and Lifestyle

The Diet Detective’s All-American Diet offers a “Build-A-Meal” approach to selecting food from supermarkets and restaurants and they say, “It’s that simple: Readers can simply go to the supermarket and start shedding pounds.”  https://www.rodalestore.com/weight-loss/the-diet-detective-s-all-american-diet.html  Wow, what a statement!  Can you imagine the overload sifting through the remaining titles?

Please don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating boycotting these diet plans, I’m only cautioning you to take a good, hard look at YOU; your age, health condition, exercise motivation, occupation, family background, financial position and the like.  There is so much more to achieving health and fitness success than following directions in a book.  Plus, what the heck fun is that?  I know from personal experience that the key factor for success in any plan is motivation.  That’s not achieved solely by following orders.  How to achieve it is another topic which I’ll be posting soon.

My health and fitness directive is in its infancy and will be featured in upcoming posts.  I’ve been researching with experts in the dietary/nutrition/medical fields and I’m brainstorming for now.  Most of my ducks are in the water and I’m on my way to achieving my goals.  I hope those of you who would appreciate a different approach will follow along with me!

“Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”  ~ Mark Twain