Smart Snacking: My New Favorite Snack

I have to share an amazing snack I tried today. I’ve raved about Quest Protein Bars in Protein Bars: The Good and the Bad and now I’m going to rave about another product from Quest that is equally satisfying and delicious; QUEST Protein Chips! Yes, these are HEALTHY potato chips AND they taste good!

My friend at GNC recommended Barbeque flavor, which I tried and loved, but there are also Sea Salt and Cheddar flavors available.

QUEST BBQ chips

Just take a look at the nutrition facts and see for yourself how good this product is.

Nutrition facts

These baked chips are Gluten free, contain no Soy, no trans or saturated fats, and the total net carbs are only 5 grams. But you know what my favorite thing about these chips is??? 21 GRAMS OF PROTEIN!!! HOW GREAT IS THAT?! Not only is it a delicious snack it has substantial nutrition! Okay, obviously I’m a little excited about these chips, but seriously they are amazing and I hope you give them a try.

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Why is Sugar Bad for Beauty?

You’ve probably heard that too much sugar is bad for your waistline, bad for your teeth and bad for your body in general. Did you know sugar is bad for your skin and ingesting large amounts of sugar can cause you to age more quickly? Have you ever woken up and noticed your face looked puffy or swollen? Much of the time, this is caused by too much sugar in the diet and here’s why:

As soon as you eat anything with sugar, your body breaks down the sugar (carbohydrates) into glucose. Glucose causes insulin levels to rise and too much sugar causes “spikes” in the insulin levels. The spiking insulin levels are what give you that burst of energy, which is generally followed by a feeling of being tired or lethargic. This spike in insulin levels also results in inflammation, and inflammation affects your skin by producing enzymes that break down collagen and elastin. This eventually results in wrinkles and sagging of the skin. Additionally, any carbohydrate (sugar) that is not used right away gets stored as fat, and for women that means generally on your waistline, hips and thighs.

Today there is sugar in so many foods, so how do you know what to eat and what not to eat? Here are my quick tips:

  • Stay away from all REFINED and SUPER –RREFINED sugars. Refined and Super-Refined sugars are what cause the rapid spikes in insulin and that are bad for your body and skin. They are also known as simple carbohydrates, and they provide a short burst of energy, no nutritional value and they are strenuous on the body to process and digest. Refined literally means that all the color and impurities are removed. The white granulated sugar that we use for baking or stir into coffee is an example of refined sugar. Other obvious examples of refined sugars are in cookies, cakes, donuts, etc. Super-refined sugar is what ends up in manufactured products such as soda and is hidden in the ingredients of many foods you might not suspect including all kinds of white bread, frozen meals, tomato sauce, canned foods, salad dressing, and the list goes on and on. Next time you’re at the store, read the list of ingredients on everything you put into your cart and you might be amazed at all the sugar you eat without even knowing it!

 

  • Sugar that you eat should be in the form of a complex carbohydrate, such as whole grains, vegetables and fruit (just don’t overdo it on the fruit; one serving a day is plenty). These sugars provide energy as well as nutrition for the body and are much easier for the body to digest. In fact, complex carbohydrates are generally high in fiber and are therefore essential to the body to aide in digestion. Sugar is also in many dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, which are good sources of protein so you shouldn’t eliminate these from your diet. Just go with a yogurt that is low in sugar or plain yogurt. For cheese, no more than one serving a day (typically 1-2 ounces) is fine, and stick with a more firm cheese, such as cheddar.

A great way to commit to being a fit and fabulous female is to start monitoring your sugar intake. If you currently consume a lot of foods with refined sugars, then I don’t recommend trying to quit all of them, all at once. Your body will actually be addicted to sugar if you consume it regularly enough so you will have to slowly remove foods from your diet in order to avoid headaches and major cravings. Message me for tips on how to cut down on your sugar intake. If you don’t consume foods with refined sugars very often, then good for you! Too much of the wrong kind of sugar is just bad for health and beauty, plain and simple.

Keep Stress OUT of the Gym!

We all know that prolonged stress can negatively affect our mind and bodies. We also know that working out is possibly the healthiest way to relieve stress. But do you ever find yourself working out to relieve stress and yet you are still thinking about the things that stress you out? Or are there things you encounter during the workout itself that stress you out? I think we could all agree that if there was an easy way we could reduce the stress in our lives we would do it! Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to reduce our individual life stresses, which consequently, just thinking about can add more stress! You may not be able to remove all the stress in your life, but you can at least try to focus on not allowing stress into your workouts.

 

The gym where I work out in the evenings used to have the music on REALLY LOUD! It was so loud, that even with my headphones and music on, I could still hear the gym’s music. I was forced to turn up the volume of my music in order to block out the gym’s music but I can only handle loud volumes of music for a certain amount of time. One night, the music was louder than usual, and I was having trouble focusing on my workout because of it. I became so irritated and stressed out by the loud music, I had to leave the gym after only about 15 minutes. I was angry and upset because I hadn’t finished my workout but I didn’t want to continue because the loud music was causing me too much stress and I simply could not focus. The next day I contacted the gym and asked if they would lower the volume of the music at night and much to my relief they did. No more unbearably loud music while I’m working out!

 

I know that my experience with the gym’s loud music was a small stressor considering what some deal with, but it was enough to make me leave the gym. The point is, try to avoid anything that you know or discover that causes you stress while you are working out. Maybe you need to not answer calls while you’re working out or leave your phone in the locker. Maybe you need to have a workout buddy to help distract you from your life stresses when you’re working out. Whatever it is, try to be very aware of anything that stresses you while you’re working out and figure out what you need to do to eliminate that stress. You owe it to yourself to have at least one part of your day where all you have to do is focus on YOU!

Post Workout Recovery

I want to share my tips for post workout recovery. Maybe you’ve heard of post workout meal, referring to the meal, snack or shake you consume after working out to help muscle repair. A post workout recovery is more than just the meal; there are several steps in the process including eating properly, replacing fluids, stretching, and resting. Here are a few tips based on what I do.

 

REFUEL: Immediately after I’ve finished my strength training exercises, I like to start drinking a protein shake that I’ve prepared in advance of my workout. I normally like to shoot for at least 25 grams of protein in this shake and I use a protein that is quickly absorbed such a whey or soy. OR if I’m working out close to my bed time, I’ll use a medium absorbing protein that gives me immediate muscle repair benefits plus recovery all night. Read more in Protein Powders: A Quick Overview. I try to “down” the protein shake in about 5 minutes since our muscles absorb the most protein within about 20 minutes post workout. NOTE: If you aren’t getting any protein after an intense work out, you are doing more damage than good to your body for the most part. In order to build muscle, you have to do resistance training, which breaks down muscle. After your work out, your body immediately goes to work rebuilding the broken down muscle and it uses the energy source that is most available. So by not providing your body with the energy it needs to recover, it will actually start breaking down existing muscle to try to repair the damage. Talk about a lose, lose situation!

 

HYDRATION: I follow the protein shake with hydration. Water or Gatorade are what I use, but not the sugar-free Gatorade, just the regular stuff. The hydration part can take more time, no need to chug like I do with the protein shake.

 

COOL DOWN: At the same time that I’ve started chugging my shake, I like to do light cardio. I just get on the treadmill and do slow to medium paced walking, 3 mph or less, to help my body cool down. The light cardio or cool down can last anywhere from 10-20 minutes, it really depends on how I’m feeling and where I’m at with my 10,000 steps goal for the day. The purpose of walking is also to help prevent the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles and it helps avoid muscle pain the next day after a strenuous workout.

 

STRETCHING: After the cardio is the stretching. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t save all my stretching for post workout. I do light stretching throughout my strength training, between most reps, especially when I’m working my legs. This helps me to help avoid muscle cramps or pain later on. Stretching after a workout is very beneficial though and it’s much safer than stretching before a workout when your muscles are cold.

 

REST: One of the most important things you can do for overall health and beauty is to get enough sleep. Six hours is the minimum recommended; much less than 6 hours is not sufficient time for your body to repair itself. Eight hours is the average recommended amount for most adult women; much more than eight hours will likely make you sluggish and more tired. I generally aim for 7 hours of sleep, sometimes I get a little extra, sometimes I get a little less but as long as I’m close to that I’m in a good place.

 

There are various supplements that I would like to add to my post workout recovery routine. The supplements I’m looking at are designed to increase post workout recovery benefits and avoid muscle soreness so I’ll update this once I get started on those.

 

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.

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.