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Top 3 Ways to Stay Fit Through the Holidays - by Personal Trainer Sarah Enouen

For a lot of us, the holiday season means a full work load, amped up social calendar, and sprinkle in some travel on top of all of that. You barely have time to sleep, so what's the first thing to go? The things that are keeping you fit. Doesn't make much sense, huh?

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Here are the top three things you can do to beat this trend:

#1: Commit to movement.

So you may not be able to make it to camp, or have time to drive to the gym and get in a workout, but you can make time for a 20-30 minute body weight workout at home. We post a workout every week here on this very blog! (Wink and a nudge...) Set a timer and move as much as possible during that time.

#2: Buy fast AND healthy options for food.

One thing I hear most when people tell me why they are not eating healthy is that, "I just chose the fastest option." I get it. When crunched for time, go with what takes the least amount of time. You can make this happen with healthy food! If you bought pre-cut veggies and hummus, and you didn't buy chips and dip, guess what you are going to eat for a quick bite...

You can buy grilled meats and roasted veggies for a prepared meal at the grocery store on the way home. You'll spend less time than you would if you ordered a pizza and had to wait around for it to get there. And you can eat as SOON as you get home. No getting hangry.

#3: Listen to your body's hunger cues.

Listening for hunger cues goes two ways. Listen for when you are hungry, and listen for when you are full. Don't let yourself go so long without food on a busy day that you are starving, it's much easier to eat more than you may normally eat. On the flip side, eat slow enough that you can feel when you are getting full.

Me personally, when I'm busy, I don't feel hunger in my stomach. I start to yawn. If I go even longer than that, I get a headache, and then I know I waited way too long. When I'm eating a big meal, as soon as I take that first big breathe, you know the one, I know that I have reached the satisfied level. If I go beyond that, I am full and have over eaten by way too much.

If you are used to your "fastest option" not being a healthy one, these three tips will take some thought and a little planning, but they are very doable. You can make it through this holiday season keeping all of your fitness gains, and not gaining a higher body fat percentage.

Stay fit my friends!

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"The Protein Question" - Your HEAT MELTDOWN Personal Trainer Tip by Dr. Maria Luque

Do I really need it? Why? How much? What kind?

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By now, hopefully you know how important it is to consume adequate amounts protein. You have probably been told, read or heard somewhere, how important it is in building muscle. This is indeed true but protein is much more important than just helping you get bigger muscles. It is essential in the proper functioning of your body (major structural component of our muscles, nervous system, brain, blood, skin and hair and is used by the body as a transport mechanism for vitamins, minerals, oxygen and fats).

Protein basics

All proteins are made up of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids that are needed for human growth and metabolism. Most of these amino acids can be produced by the body but nine of them, called essential amino acids must be obtained by food. Our bodies can't produce these and that's why it's essential to include them in a balanced diet. These essential amino acids are: Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine.

Complete proteins are proteins (animal sources such as milk, egg, poultry, fish, meat, soy) that contain all 9 essential amino acids. Although animal source proteins provide all essential amino acids, there is a concern about the typically high amount of saturated fat that these foods have when compared to plant-based foods.

Incomplete proteins are protein sources (plant foods) that do not contain all essential amino acids. This is especially important to consider for vegetarians and vegans as they need to pay special attention to eat a variety of plant foods to make sure they consume enough of all amino acids. That said, with the proper combination, vegetable proteins can provide the same benefits as animal proteins.

Protein types

Topping the list of high quality proteins are meat, egg, poultry, fish, and soy. Milk, and all of its components (whey, casein) is closely behind.

Whey protein can be divided into whey powder (11%-15% protein), whey concentrate (25%-89% protein) and whey isolate (>90% protein). Whey isolate is lactose free. This type of protein is quickly absorped and digested and ideal for muscle regeneration after a workout. It has a much larger ability for muscle protein synthesis stimulation that casein or soy proteins.

Casein is released into the bloodstream much slower then whey and can provide a more constant supply of amino acids. A combination of whey and casein seems to have the greatest muscular strenght improvements.

Plant-based protein sources

Soy is the only vegetable protein that contains all nine essential amino acids and a high concentration of branched-chained amino acids. Just like whey protein, soy can be divided into three types (soy flour, concentrate, and isolate) depending on the protein content. This type of protein has been in the news for its health benefits. However, specific soy components (isoflavones) are phytoestrogens which are a form of estrogen, which could have "drug-like effects in the body" (FDA, 2000). There is still a lot of research to be done but it can be said that soy protein can have valuable health benefits. FDA determined that diets with four daily soy servings can reduce levels of LDL by as much as 10 percent (1% drop in total cholesterol can equal a 2 percent drop in heart disease risk). For more information about soy, read my blog "The Soy Controversy."

Textured Vegetable Protein is made from soy flour and is often used as a meat alternative in vegetarian hot dogs, etc.

Some high-protein plant-based food sources are: lentils (9g), black/pinto/red beans (8g) tempeh (16g), soy milk (8g), tofu (10g), quinoa (4g), pumpkin seeds (9g), peanuts (7g).

So what does that all mean?

  • The most important aspect of protein consumption is to ensure consumption of the nine essential amino acids. This can be accomplished through complete proteins or combination of incomplete proteins.
  • Essential amino acids do not have to be consumed in one food or even one meal. You can consume them over the course of the day to ensure you are including all nine essential amino acids in your diet.
  • When choosing a protein powder, pay attention to the type of protein (isolate is better than powder or concentrate).

Daily protein intake recommendations:

There is much discussion about how much protein is the right amount and in the end you have to know what's right for you. But to help you make an informed decision, below are some recommendations that are based on physical activity level and on how much protein a person needs per day to promote physical strength, muscle growth, and overall health:

  • Minimal physical activity:  0.4 - 0.5 grams per pound of body weight
  • Moderate physical activity: 0.5-0.6 grams per pound of body weight
  • Intense physical activity:  0.7-0.9 grams per pound of body weight
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Word of caution: Even though excessive protein consumption has not been shown to have negative health effects in healthy/active people, individuals with kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease, or osteoporosis can be at risk. "Chronic high protein intake (>2 g per kg BW per day for adults) may result in digestive, renal, and vascular abnormalities and should be avoided." (Wu, 2016)

Stay happy and healthy

-Dr. Maria

 

Sources:

Hoffman, J. R., & Falvo, M. J. (2004). Protein – Which is Best? Journal of Sports Science & Medicine3(3), 118–130.

Cribb, P. J., Williams, A. D., Stathis, C. G., Carey, M. F., & Hayes, A. (2007). Effects of whey isolate, creatine, and resistance training on muscle hypertrophy. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 39(2), 298-307.

Wu, G. (2016). Dietary protein intake and human health. Food & Function 7(3), 1251-65.

Dietitians of Canada, American College of Sports Medicine, & American Dietetic Association. (2000). Joint position statement: Nutrition and athletic performance. american college of sports medicine, american dietetic association, and dietitians of canada. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 32(12), 2130

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