My Current Eating Routine and Diet

Several of my friends have asked what I eat to stay in shape so I thought I would share my current eating routine and diet. NOTE: This is my personal diet and while I can recommend the same or similar as a general guideline for a healthy diet, this may not be an appropriate diet for every woman so please check with a doctor or nutritionist first if you are interested in trying what I do.

My diet is high in protein, high in fiber and low in simple carbs. High protein means I eat a lot of meat, eggs, dairy, and I supplement with protein powders. High in fiber means I eat a lot of vegetables and some fruit. Low in carbs means I eat very little simple carbohydrates such as white bread, rice and pasta, and basically anything with refined sugars. Vegetables and fruits are also carbohydrates but they are considered complex carbohydrates because they take longer to digest and therefore make you feel full and satisfied for longer than simple carbs. Complex carbs such as fruits and veggies also offer nutrients and generally more fiber than you can get from simple carbs.

My diet is also focused on keeping my metabolism running very fast and keeping my blood sugar levels even. I do this by eating every 2-3 hours, 6 times per day. With each “meal” I aim for at least 20 grams of protein. This helps me to stay full throughout the day and prevents my blood sugar from reaching highs and lows. Fluctuating blood sugar levels is not a fun thing; you probably know what I’m talking about, when one minute you feel great and the next minute you feel so hungry, shaky, weak, and cranky that you will eat jut about anything in sight! As I mentioned in Maintaining Muscle: Advice for Women , the average woman (meaning not seriously overweight) should consume about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day in order to maintain muscle. Consuming regular amounts of protein throughout the day also keeps blood sugar levels even, and keeps our metabolism active. If I eat exactly 20 grams of protein 6 times per day, I am right at 120 grams of protein which is almost matching my bodyweight in pounds. The amount of grams I eat at eat meal varies slightly, but my end goal is to consume 120- 130 grams of protein each day.

In addition to protein, I try to get the recommended five servings of vegetables and fruit, which based on my routine means I need to eat a fruit or vegetable with almost every meal. I admit it is a little more of a challenge for me to get enough veggies and fruit in my diet than it is to get enough protein. I tend to get lazy about the cleaning and chopping that is needed to prepare them so getting my five servings a day of fruits and veggies is something I’m working towards being more consistent with.

For Carbohydrates, I try to stay around 100 grams or less per day. I don’t count carbs from fruits and vegetables, I only count simple carbs from other foods and beverages that I might eat such as bread, pasta, rice, lattes, etc. When you consider that a Tall Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks has 40 grams of carbohydrates, you’ll see that those simple carbs add up quickly! Again, I try to stay under 100 grams per day because the simple carbs are going to be high in refined sugars which we should avoid anyway for numerous reasons.

So here is what a typical day of eating looks like for me:

7:30 am BREAKFAST 1st meal: I have three choices that I rotate throughout the week:

CHOICE ONE: Three large egg whites plus one whole large egg scrambled, and a sautéed vegetable on the side, usually zucchini or broccoli (24 grams of protein, carbs from veggies not counted). I also like to alternate the sautéed vegetable with a small fruit salad on the side.

CHOICE TWO: Greek Yogurt with Extra Protein exactly as detailed in my recipe (20 grams of protein).

CHOICE THREE: Protein shake – I’ll recommend my favorite protein powders in another post but for breakfast, I like to use a medium release protein powder (as described in Protein Powders: A Quick Overview ) and for me it needs to have about 24 grams of protein and no more than 6 or 7 grams of carbs.

9:30 am SNACK 2nd meal:

CHOICE ONE: 2 ounces of deli meat, 2 – 2.25 ounces of cheese (22-24 grams of protein). Deli meats tend to be really high in sodium so it’s a good idea not to overdue it.

CHOICE TWO: Assuming it was a day I didn’t have yogurt for meal 1, I will alternate  Greek Yogurt with Extra Protein as a meal two choice. (20 grams of protein if prepared exactly as detailed in my recipe).

CHOICE THREE: Quest Bar (20-22 grams of protein, net carbs are about 3-4 grams) these things are awesome!!! They are a little sweet for me (usually 0-4 grams of added sugar but they use Stevia which is really sweet!), but they have MUCH more protein than the average protein bar and much lower carbs too (just compare the nutrition facts to a Cliff Bar. Not that I don’t like Cliff Bars but you’ll see what I mean). Also they have about 7 grams of fiber which makes them even better!

12:30 pm LUNCH 3rd meal:

2-4 ounces of some type of meat, I usually alternate between chicken, turkey and canned tuna (no more than three times per week for tuna) and some vegetable (protein varies slightly depending on how many ounces and what type of meat, but total protein should be around 15-22 grams).

2:30 pm SNACK 4th meal:

CHOICE ONE: Quest Bar if I didn’t have one earlier (20-22 grams of protein).

CHOICE TWO: two tablespoons of peanut butter with an apple or banana (8 grams of protein) and 2 ounces of cheese, assuming I didn’t have cheese earlier (14 grams of protein).

5:30 pm DINNER 5th meal:

Basically the same deal as lunch, 2-4 ounces of some type of meat, I usually alternate between chicken, turkey, beef, pork, salmon, tilapia (Once a week at most for tilapia as it’s got a lot of fat) and canned tuna (again protein varies slightly depending on how many ounces and what type of meat, but total protein should be around 15-22 grams). I include some type of vegetable

9:30 pm POST WORKOUT RECOVERY SHAKE 6th meal:

My post workout recovery shake is what I drink IMMEDIATELY after getting home from the gym. Typically the shake I make has 25-30 grams of protein. This is my last meal for the day, recovery for my body and muscles after working out and protein that continues to fuel and repair my body until morning. If I don’t work out, I may or may not skip this last meal; just depends on my overall protein intake for the day.

You might be thinking “That’s a lot of eating!” or “How do you have time to prepare and pack all those meals?” Well the truth is, it takes time to get into a routine like this. When I think back to where I was a year and a half ago, “breakfast” to me was a pastry and a latte from Starbucks. With all the simple carbs, I would be ravenous in a couple hours and had to break for lunch at 11 am. Then I would have a lunch that was usually low in protein and high in carbs and by the end of the work day, I was rushing home because I was hungry again and needed to eat. Not to mention in between meals, I was often light headed or shaky as my blood sugar levels were unstable between the sugar rushes and the crashing, as I hadn’t consumed enough protein and complex carbs to fuel my body. When I finally got tired of feeling like this all the time, and I started educating myself about how and what I needed to eat, and THAT was when I started to change my eating “habits.” Things like pastries or croissants for breakfast can take a while to replace, but when your body is satisfied nutritionally, those cravings start to fade and eventually you will crave the nutritious and wholesome foods instead of the simple carbs. Once you start the habit of eating healthier foods, then you can start a routine of eating healthy foods at scheduled times. Message me for more information on how to start eating your way to becoming a fit and fabulous female.

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Protein Powders: A Quick Overview

For a long time, I didn’t know that there are different types of protein powder that should be used in different ways. The rate at which our bodies absorb protein varies, depending on the type of protein. There are “slow” absorbing proteins  (casein) and “quick” absorbing proteins (whey and soy) and then there are blends of the two, making a formula that is absorbed at a “medium” pace. So how do you know when to use what??? Well without going into all the science behind this, most of us are using protein powder as either a meal replacement or as a post work out recovery. If you’re having a protein shake as a meal  replacement, a medium protein blend should be fine. If you’re using protein powder as a post workout recovery, you are going to want the faster absorbing protein because your muscles need energy that can be quickly absorbed to start repairing muscle tissue. If you’re interested in what I’m doing, I recently added a protein powder to my routine that I use for my post workout recovery PLUS recovery for overnight. I typically do my work out in the evenings, I start about 2 -3 hours before bed. I prepare my protein shake before I hit the gym, 1. because I like it to chill in the fridge for a bit, and 2. I’m usually too tired and not motivated after working out to do much other than relax so it’s nice to have the shake waiting for me when I get home. The protein I’m using is a medium release. I want my muscles to use the energy from my protein shake right away to recover from my work out, but I also want them to continue to rebuild all night long so that’s why I chose the medium. The other thing is, I get up pretty early, around 5:30 am,  but I don’t actually put any food into my stomach until about 7am. Having a protein shake before bed is gives me more energy in the morning and helps to avoid hunger while I’m doing light activity (taking my dog out and walking around as I get ready for work) until I eat an actual breakfast. If I wasn’t working out in the evenings, I would probably use a slow release protein before bed, but again, I’m currently using a medium protein because of my routine of working out shortly before bed.

Greek Yogurt with Extra Protein

I like to alternate my breakfasts during the week between scrambled eggs (3-4 days a week) and yogurt (twice a week). In a serving of yogurt however, I find there is never quite enough protein to hold me over for more than a couple hours, so here is my tip for a little extra protein boost.

I like to use Tillamook Farmstyle Greek because it’s high in protein to begin with (13-14 g). In a small bowl beat one large egg white, add yogurt and whisk until smooth. The egg white gives it about 6 grams of additional protein, for a total of about 20 grams of protein. Perfect for breakfast (or desert!).

Tillamook Farmstyle Greek Yogurt_n

*There is a very slight chance of food poisoning from consuming raw eggs, however, the risk of salmonella bacteria infection is estimated to be 0.003% by the US Department of Agriculture. You can reduce this risk even further by only consuming organic eggs raw.

If you don’t feel comfortable using a raw egg white, you can add two tablespoons of peanut butter for an extra 8 – 10 grams of protein, or try stirring in a couple tablespoons of unflavored protein powder. Either of these ingredients will change the texture, which is why I prefer the egg white. There is no taste and when blended, you don’t even know the egg white is there.

Baking Soda and Beauty

The uses and health benefits of Baking Soda are practically endless! Baking soda or Bicarbonate is naturally produced in the body to help buffer against acids. Bicarbonate is used to treat kidney disease and metabolic acidosis, indigestion and heartburn. It can be made into a paste and applied to the skin to alleviate psoriasis, sunburns, bites from insects, or rashes from poison ivy/oak. Baking soda is a natural deodorant and can be sprinkled on your carpets before you vacuum (this is great for people with pets!) or put in your refrigerator to reduce odors.

My favorite uses for baking soda currently are toothpaste (check out my home-made recipe) and as an exfoliator. Baking soda in toothpaste is great for keeping teeth white and you avoid all the chemicals that are added to store bought toothpaste. Baking soda is great for exfoliating your face and body; you can either make a paste of pure baking soda or water, or I like to add it to my current cream cleanser. Be careful not scrub too hard and avoid the skin right around yours eyes.

If you have any other health, home or beauty tips for using baking soda, I’d love to hear them!

Toothpaste Recipe

Here is my recipe for home-made toothpaste. Never mind the cost savings, just check out the health benefits from making your own toothpaste with Baking Soda and that should be reason enough to try this! Plus this is so easy and simple you can put it together in a matter of minutes.

1/4 cup of baking soda

1/4 teaspoon of peppermint oil (more or less depending on how much flavor you want)

1/4 teaspoon of water (more or less depending on how you like the consistency)

1 packet of Stevia

Mix all the above ingredients in a small bowl. Scoop into a jar or plastic container and secure with a lid. Done!

You can make adjustments on the peppermint oil and water as mentioned above to adjust the flavor and consistency. If you make it too watery, just add more baking soda. Be sure to keep your toothpaste covered with a lid, but if you find it getting dry throughout the week, just add a little water.

I like to make small batches so I have fresh toothpaste every week but feel free to make a larger batch if that is more convenient for you. Just double or triple the recipe; whatever works for you!

Supplements: A Few Recommendations for the Active Woman

If you are actively working out or you are getting ready to start working out, you should consider taking various supplements to boost your performance and protect your body from injury. Here are a few supplements I strongly recommend to prevent joint pain and inflammation.

Glucosamine Sulfate (Glucosamine): Many times, joint pain, especially in the knees or elbows is due to the cartilage being worn away, and this problem can be significantly improved if not eliminated by adding 1.5 – 2 g of Glucosamine to your diet. The glucosamine will boost the production of synovial fluid (the fluid that lubricates the joints) and helps to regenerate cartilage.

You can take a glucosamine supplement in the form of a pill, but note that in order to get at least 1.5 g, you will usually have to take several pills per day so read the label on the bottle carefully to see how many pills are in a serving. I recently started taking a liquid supplement with 2 g of glucosamine (as well as Chondroitin and MSM) and I love it! The brand I’m trying is Wellesse Glucosamine Joint Movement (you can also buy this at Costco) and I take the recommended dose of 1 ounce in the morning on an empty stomach. Liquid is also more easily and more completely absorbed by the body than supplements in a pill form so that’s another reason I am loving this product (think more for your money!).

Chondroitin Sulfate (Chondroitin): similar to Glucosamine, Chondroitin is an important supplement for rebuilding cartilage as well as reducing inflammation. It’s usually paired with Glucosamine (such as in the above product I recommended) because they have a “synergistic” effect, meaning they work together. The recommended dose is 1 – 1.5 g per day.

*I found that the combination of Glucosamine and Chondroitin stopped my “clicking” ankles in a matter of days. I don’t know about you but I like to be able to walk around without going *snap -crackle-pop!*

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): MSM is a sulfur containing compound and is naturally present in the body. Supplementing MSM improves blood flow and decreases inflammation. The recommended daily dose for MSM varies but I get 500 mg from the Wellesse Glucosamine Joint Movement and then I take an additional 1000 mg before bed. The additional MSM I purchase from GNC.

*I started taking MSM because I learned that this supplement helps nail and hair growth. At the time, I was experiencing frequent pain in my left wrist and within days of taking 1 – 2 g of MSM (for my hair and nails), my wrist pain was gone!

Taking the above supplements and the recommended doses should help if you are experiencing joint pain or inflammation, but keep in mind the amount of time it takes to experience relief can vary from person to person. I noticed relief right away from my clicking joints and wrist pain but don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel like you have the same results right away; it may take a couple months for the supplements to go into full effect.

Maintaining Muscle: Advice for Women

 

woman flexing bicep

Believe it or not, women start losing muscle mass as early as their twenties. By age 30, the average woman will lose 3-5% of her muscle over the next decade. Why should you as a woman be concerned about this? Well, Muscle is important for a lot of reason such as a fast metabolism, controlling weight gain, as well as power, endurance and strength to perform our daily activities. Additionally, muscle helps keep us looking toned, shapely and beautiful. If you’re trying to lose weight and you’re only doing cardio and you’re not doing anything that works the major muscles of your body, then your workouts are not going to be nearly as effective in terms of your weight loss goal. You HAVE to add some sort of strength training to build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more your body needs to use calories to feed your muscle, so even while you are at a resting state or sleeping, you will be burning calories! If you’re not trying to lose weight, you still need to build muscle or at least maintain muscle if you want to avoid a resting metabolism, bone deterioration, insulin resistance, and other health factors that are linked to illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

I think many women are apprehensive about “building muscle” for fear of turning into the Hulk! The reality is that, unless you are lifting weights for hours a day and consuming massive amounts of protein, as a woman, you will not get bulky like a man does. Men naturally have a higher muscle content, plus testosterone and even still, they have to work out for years to look like “The Rock.” So stop imagining yourself bulking up and start thinking about building muscle in order to maintain overall health and beauty.

Resistance training a few times a week in combination with a healthy diet can make a huge difference in women that are starting to lose muscle mass or that are trying to prevent muscle loss. Additionally, getting enough protein in your diet is essential to preventing muscle loss. On average, a woman should consume an average of .75 g – 1 g of protein per pound of her bodyweight per day (for a very overweight woman, the number of grams of protein should be measured by her ideal weight, not her current weight). So in other words, for myself personally, my weight it usually around 125 lbs, so I need to consume anywhere from 100-125 grams of protein per day, just to maintain my current muscle. Generally if I consume less than 100 grams of protein, I’m starving by the end of the day! Even on a day that I don’t exercise, my body still burns a significant amount of calories because I’m fairly toned and I need to eat about 100 grams, just to avoid hunger. On days where I’m working out, I need to eat 125 grams or more of protein. Where do I get that much protein in a day? There are numerous sources of protein that you can include in your diet. I will get into sources of protein more in another post. The most important things I hope you can away from this are that 1. you need to maintain muscle in order to maintain overall health, and 2. the ways you maintain muscle are through strength training (resistance training) and consuming enough protein on a daily basis.