A Strong Diet: Food That Pumps You Up

Man Lifting WeightsIn the wake of America’s growing waistline, fitness trends have spread like wildfire throughout the nation. While more people are hitting the gym and attending their local Zumba class, it’s just as important to pump up your diet as it is to pump up your gym time.  Learning about what foods keep you lean and strong is imperative as more processed foods flood mainstream marketplaces.

When you’re ready to bulk up, foods high in protein are your friend.  There are complete and incomplete proteins in the food we eat. Animal products are high in complete proteins.  Lean beef, chicken, egg whites, low-fat cheese, and skim milk are all categorized as complete proteins in that they have all the essential amino acids that your body needs to build muscle mass.  Because proteins we ingest are not stored, and amino acids are recycled, even proteins that are not complete-like those consumed from plant based foods- can contribute significant amounts of protein to your diet.

Proteins should be consumed in grams per day depending on your weight. For example, if you weigh 135 pounds, you should be eating about 50 grams as a non-athlete, but as an athlete, your requirements could increase to as much as 105 grams (most Americans already eat this amount of protein and may not need to bump their intake up).  Competitive weight lifters need to be mindful of not only their protein intake, but also their carbohydrate and overall calorie intake.

Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates can be your friend when you’re looking to be beach body ready.  Carbs are essentially sugars that give you the energy to start and finish your workouts.  The complex carbohydrates in oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat pasta release their energy more slowly, giving your body a constant source of energy to pull those final shoulder presses from.  Stay away from simple carbs that are commonly found in candy, soda pop, pre-sweetened cereals, and some high sugar energy bars. If you think about foods your dentist would like you to skip, you can more easily identify foods higher in these simple carbs.  Getting enough of the complex carbs in your daily diet also allows the protein to work to assist in building and repairing your muscle!

Taking time to eat breakfast in the morning will help to kick-start your metabolism. Making an omelet with leafy greens or vegetables, and adding a small bowl of oatmeal is perfect for regulating your sugar levels.  Even adding a glass of reduced/low fat milk or cottage cheese with fruit is a much better option than a trip to Starbucks.  You’re preparing your body to face the day ahead of you and starting your digestion early in the day.  This will help you transition from larger meals at the end of the day to a larger breakfast, followed by a smaller lunch and humble dinner.

As you move through your daily grind and workout and get thirsty, don’t just grab a Gatorade or so-called power drink!  Stick with water, and stay hydrated all day long.  Your muscles will recover more quickly if you are properly hydrated. The recommended daily intake for water is between 2.5 and 3 liters.  If you’re not used to drinking water consistently throughout the day, start with breakfast and bump up your fluid intake. Have a glass of water along with your glass of orange juice. Bringing a travel cup to work or school is also helpful. When you drink water throughout the day, you help your digestive system process food more efficiently.

Gaining muscle mass doesn’t stop at the gym.  Being disciplined and committed to the improvement of your overall health will only allow you to achieve your goal quicker.  A regimented weight training schedule and proper nutrition will help you feel and look better in no time!

This post was written for Chew on this blog by Dr. David Kulla. Dr. Kulla is a licensed New York Chiropractor and a nutritionist as well as owner of http://synergywellnessny.com in Manhattan.

5 Tech Strategies for Successful Weight Loss

Sample view of Nutrihand, my client online food tracker

If you just ate too many jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, and are vowing to get back to a healthy diet this week, consider using some tech tools to help with weight loss.  With some time ahead of us before the next holiday, it’s a great time to start tracking your diet and physical activity.  Tracking your food intake allows you to avoid denial about your energy consumption, and keeps you honest with yourself on a daily basis.  If weight loss is your goal, then the only way you will reach that goal is to somehow take in less energy than your body needs, or use more energy than you consume through food.  To lose one pound of fat per week, you must go into a 3500 calorie deficit per week, doing so either with less food, more exercise, or a combination of less food and more exercise!  While crossing your fingers and “hoping” the weight comes off is a rather common occurrence, being systematic with your focus can mean the difference between hoping and happening.

Here are some of my favorite techie strategies for weight loss:

  1. Use the Internet for Nutrition Information– If you “must” dine out often, you need to be aware of the nutrients and calories you are eating through food consumed away from home.  While a full service restaurant is not required by law to provide the calorie content of its meals, franchises with 20 or more locations are.  This is very helpful to anyone who frequents Panera to P.F. Chang’s.  With some foresight and planning, you can access each restaurant website prior to eating there, and arm yourself with an effective eating strategy.
  2. Online Food DocumentationNutrihand is one of the online food tracking platforms I now offer my clients. Clients log in their food intake and day-to-day, we can both see if goals are met.  Goals may revolve around not only calories, but also other specific nutrients such as carbohydrate, fat, protein, calcium, potassium, sodium, and fiber. There are similar programs on the Internet to serve a similar purpose, and it’s worth your while to experiment with a format that works for you.
  3. Using Smartphones for Food Related Decisions– At this point, there are so many great smartphone apps on the market and more become available daily.  Some can be used to track food on the spot, some to track your physical activity like a pedometer, and some can help us make better nutritional decisions at the grocery store. With the smartphone camera, you can even take photos of foods to share with your favorite dietitian for further discussion.
  4. A Pedometer-While basic pedometers are not exactly high-tech, they can be effective for assessing baseline physical activity.  Some of the slightly more expensive pedometers allow for downloading of collected data (steps, aerobic steps, calories, distance) to your computer through a USB port and cable.  This allows your data to be documented, graphed, and saved on your computer or shared with your dietitian.
  5. BodyMedia Armband– This is the ultimate assessment tool for determining how many calories you require for weight management.  Worn on the left upper arm, it measures your calorie burn in a 24-hour period.  It seems very accurate and after the collected data is downloaded, you are able to look at your energy expenditure in sections of the day.  This allows you to evaluate the activities and movements which are most effective at using energy and therefore facilitating weight loss. Another perk, it assesses your sleep quality which has been noted as being important in the weight loss process.

With the help of these technology driven self-monitoring tools, your behavior and diet will be both consistent and effective enough to help you reach your weight goals efficiently and effortlessly!

Do you have any special weight loss tech tools you would care to share?