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Fuel for School: Diet Tips for a Better School Year

Are you giving your kids the right fuel for school, or do their choices consist of PopTarts, Toaster Strudels, Cinnamon Toast Crunch or “leggomyeggo” waffles?

children's cerealsI have to admit, my mom really didn’t know a lot about nutrition when I was young. I pretty much ate whatever I wanted – none of which was healthy. Pop Tarts and sugary cereals with prizes in the box were a staple in our house. I wasn’t a big breakfast eater, and I’m sure my mom was just happen when I ate breakfast period – no matter what it was. However, she had no idea what it was doing to my day at school.

Ironically, my mom must have known a healthy breakfast had it’s advantages because my mom always made me a healthy big breakfast on test day. The problem is, no healthy breakfast in the world could help me get a better grade when I wasn’t paying attention all the other days I ate crap. What a child eats for breakfast greatly determines how they feel at school.

Fuel the Brain

You probably wouldn’t let your kid eat a piece of cake or some brownies for breakfast, but the majority of breakfast foods for kids are as equally unhealthy. They may taste good on the tongue, but they do nothing for the body.

toaster strudelSugary, high-glycemic breakfasts set your child up for failure. They will get your child happily out the door, but in just a couple hours (if that), they will likely lose energy, along with their attention span – unless they are lucky enough to have a stimulating class (like PE) that gets their blood sugar back up mechanically from exercise or activity.

pancake syrup Your child needs healthy low-glycemic foods rich in fiber, with a little healthy fat. Lower glycemic foods deliver an IV drip-like affect of energy throughout the morning. Sugary foods hit the system fast, and also leaves the system fast. Lower glycemic foods and healthy fats take a slower time to break down in our system. The longer it’s in the tummy, the longer the energy will last from the meal. Meals high in fiber keep the tummy full too, as well as regular blood sugar (and a ton of other great stuff too).

looney-tunesAs I look back, I remember eating nice big healthy breakfasts on Saturday mornings or on Holidays because that’s probably when my mom had more time to cook. Yet, that would be a good time to have a “treat” like waffles or french toast, because it’s not like I needed a lot of energy to watch cartoons all morning. But, for school, it’s a different story. Kids need all the help they can get to be alert, feel good and do well in school. A healthy breakfast is a must for your child’s brain – not to mention their waistline!

Eat This, Not That

This info graphic by HowManyCaloriesCounters.com shows what, and what not, to eat before exam day – but I think it’s how all students should eat to perform their best EVERY day.

Eat this, not that

Who’s the Boss?

healthy breakfast

I think back to my school days, and I can’t BELIEVE what I ate. Processed foods and coke were my go-to foods. I didn’t even know what oatmeal was. Whole grains? What is that? Eggs? Yuck! Yogurt? You mean frozen yogurt? Honestly, what kid is going to choose oatmeal over Captain Crunch or Pancakes!? Sure, there are a few kids who like eggs and toast, but most kids would prefer the breakfast that comes in a flashy fun package, complete with a toy.

senior-eating-cerealI remember thinking Special K was for overweight women and Raisin Bran was for old people – I only knew what the commercials taught me. It’s time for parents to be parents. It’s time parents teach their children to eat healthy – and to help them understand why it’s important (other than just being about weight).

You want your child to FEEL good. You want your child to perform their best – and I’m sure you don’t want them to gain weight or struggle with weight related health issues like diabetes. If you wouldn’t let them take drugs in your house, or make other poor choices that are dangerous or unhealthy, don’t let them make poor choices with food. While one poptart won’t hurt here and there, a child who is allowed to eat whatever they want when they are young, could have serious repercussions later in life.

One article in the NY Daily News on this topic said, “Childhood is a critical period in which dietary and lifestyle patterns are initiated, and these habits can have important immediate and long-term implications,” says lead author Dr. Jianghong-Liu, associate professor at Penn Nursing. “Breakfast habits appear to be no exception, and irregular breakfast eating has already been associated with a number of unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, frequent alcohol use, and infrequent exercise.”

Top 10 Sugar-Bomb Cereals

Here are the top 10 sugar-bomb kids’ cereals, ranked by percent weight in sugar by the Environmental Working Group. NOTE: 26% is the recommended MAX.

  1. sugarKellogg’s Honey Smacks: 55.6% sugar
  2. Post Golden Crisp: 51.9% sugar
  3. Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow:  48.3% sugar
  4. Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries: 46.9% sugar
  5. Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch Original:  44.4%  sugar
  6. Quaker Oats Oh!s: 44.4% sugar
  7. Kellogg’s Smorz:  43.3%  sugar
  8. Kellogg’s Apple Jacks: 42.9% sugar
  9. Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries: 42.3% sugar
  10. Kellogg’s Froot Loops Original: 41.4% sugar

Click HERE to get healthy cereal ideas and read the rest of the story on Fitbie.com

FOLLOW my blog (located at the top right of my blog) for more healthy back to school tips this week!

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30 Days of Motivation: Does Your Diet Need More Muscle?

Protein shakeIf you want to tone up, you need to put more muscle in your workouts – and in your kitchen. The problem is, most people don’t know how much protein they eat – or how much they need. Well, after you read today’s blog, you will not only know “your number”, but you’ll know how and when to take it too.

First, I want to hit some key pointers.

1. Budget your protein intake. Before you start gulping down protein, you want to make sure you realize you are also gulping down more calories. Many people who start a fitness program hoping to lose weight and tone up ADD protein to their diet, but forget to SUBTRACT calories from carbs and fat. Another words, they are increasing their protein AND calories. Then they wonder whey they GAINED weight trying to get healthy. If you need to lose weight or lean out, remember that adding protein to your diet is great, but you have to account for the extra calories – and protein shakes and bars can add up fast if you aren’t paying attention.

2. Know when to take it. Protein is not a good source of fuel. That’s why marathoners carb up, not protein up. Protein is best for repair. So, the 2 best times to take protein, besides getting it in whole foods throughout your day, is post workout and before you go to bed. Our body is most receptive to absorbing protein within 30-40 minutes of your workout, and it needs protein to help our body repair muscle while we sleep.

protein shake3. Know how to take it. If you are taking protein post workout, you want to pair it with simple sugars to help speed up absorption so you can use the protein in that 30-40 minute window. For instance, a protein shake with water and honey, or protein with orange juice would be a good post workout shake. Any other time, you want to slow digestion down so you can absorb as much nutrients as possible. The longer it’s in your stomach, the more protein you absorb, and the longer you’ll stay full. In this case, adding milk or peanut butter is helpful.

4. Know your number. GNC put together a cool calculator to help people know how many grams of protein they should take a day. Note that it also gives you a window – minimum to maximum. For example, my number is 95 – but my range is 78-111. For me, the only way I can get that much protein is to supplement. I can get about 60 or so grams of protein in whole foods (I’m not a big meat eater) and then I supplement with a couple of shakes or a shake and a bar to reach my daily goal. CLICK HERE to find YOUR number.

my protein number

Today’s Mantra:

2013 feed for fuel

CARBS: Eat Them or Avoid Them?

I’m dedicating this week to diet and weight loss. Whether you are dieting for the first time or you are just wanting to tweak your diet, I will be giving you tips to help make dieting easier and more rewarding. 

Carbs Are Evil
The media has plastered a message across the globe that carbs are bad. So much so, some people are terrified of them. Ironically, those same people are eating the heck out of carbs and just don’t know it because they aren’t one of the obvious “bad” carbs. Sure, french fries are carbs but so are fruit and veggies. The problem is, many people are eating too many unhealthy carbs and not enjoying the benefit of the heathy ones.

Food = Fuel
Before you can even think of changing your food habits, you have to change your mind. From this day forward, start thinking of food as fuel. Although food does taste good, it’s purpose is to fuel you. How your body runs is determined by the food you eat. If you eat like crap, you’ll feel like crap – and you might not even realize it because you’ve never eaten healthy enough, consistently enough, to tell the difference. Start asking yourself “what does my body need?” instead of “what does my tongue want to taste?”. When you give your body what it needs, you will find you’ll feel better and feel more satisfied.

What are Carbs Good For?
Carbohydrates are one of the best sources of fuel – that’s why athletes carb up before their big day. You don’t see them loading up on chicken and steak before the race, you see them eating a big bowl of pasta and bread. Carbs fuel you to work, play and train well. However, how much energy do you need to sleep? What kind of carb-loading do you need to snore? None! Yet, this is when many people eat the biggest, high-carb meals.

Carbs: It’s All About WHEN You Eat Them
This graph will give you a visual of how you can fuel your body through out the day. First, there’s protein (in red). Protein is so important, but it’s not a great fuel source – however, it’s essential for muscle repair, which is primarily done while we sleep. Fat (yellow), is a good lasting energy source, should stay consistent throughout the day. It also helps slow digestion, helping us stay fuller longer, as well as absorb more nutrients. Lastly, carbohydrates are your best source for fuel. Since you don’t need a lot of fuel to sleep, I recommend decreasing carbs at night.  (This doesn’t mean you don’t have ANY protein or carbs during at those time, you just don’t need as much)

The Good News
If you thought you were going to have to give up pasta and potatoes – think again! You can eat all your favorite yummies during the morning and daytime (as long as they are within your caloric budget for the day) and just cut them back at night. So instead of eating that salad at lunch, eat your higher carb meals, like sandwiches,  wraps, pasta, etc) during the day, saving salads and greens for the evening. You’ll have more energy during the day and you’ll be less likely to store fat from unused carbohydrates at bedtime.

Tips for Meal Planning 

Low Calorie Vegetables (great for dinner sides)
TIP:
Dark Green Veggies are always a safe bet!

Spinach
Collards
Kale
Broccoli
Asparagus
Cauliflower
Mustard or Turnip Greens
Lettuce
Cabbage
Zucchini
Green Beans
Sprouts
Okra 
Squash
Tomatoes
Cucumber
Egg Plant
Sea Vegetables (Nori, etc)

High Carb Foods (best for breakfast, lunch & snacks)
TIP: If it’s light in color doesn’t mean it’s light in calories.
Potato
Sweet Potato
Whole Grain Pasta
Whole Grain Bread
Rice (white & brown)
Beans/Chick Peas/Black Eyed Peas
Corn
Whole Grain Cereal
Oatmeal
Cream of Wheat
Cakes/Cookies/Pastries
Yogurt
Milk
Fruit
Juice 

Remember, dieting is all about calories in vs. calories out. If you have never counted calories before (and even if you’re stubborn and don’t want to count calories) be sure to read yesterday’s 7 DAY DIET: How to Make Your Own Meal Plan blog. This blog will help you learn how to get started. 

NOTE: Another great time to have protein is RIGHT AFTER a workout. There are a lot more tips to share, and as with everything, exceptions to the rule – so please realize I’m trying to keep things simple. More tips to come!

SUBSCRIBE TO GET THE REST OF MY TIPS ON DIETING THIS WEEK! 🙂

Tips to Fueling for Fitness

Choosing the right fuel for a workout depends on the workout you’re fueling up for. It’s like fueling up a car. The fuel used for drag racing is totally different than fuel used for Nascar. Dragsters just need to get to the finish line as fast as possible, which is only about a thousand feet away. Nascar fuel needs to help you go fast, steady and strong so you can go the distance. In many ways the same principles apply to fitness.

Fueling up for fitness and weight loss can be very different. For instance, if you need to make it through an intense workout, like weight training or our BCx boot camp, you’ll need something that can power you through your entire workout. Lifting a weight or powering a jump requires blood sugar readily available. Read the rest of this entry

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