Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall Nutrition means Winter Squash!

Winter squash such as butternut, acorn squash, and pumpkins are all in the same family. Winter squash has a tough rind, which allows for storage during the winter months. Storing and preparing squash prolongs the vegetable's quality, ensuring it tastes as sweet and buttery as when you bought it.  Squash contains many different nutrients, such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

Health Benefits of Winter Squash
§       High in fiber, nutrient dense, the bright orange color of pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash, buttercup squash and all the many varieties of winter squash are a dead giveaway that they are loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offers protect against heart disease. Beta-carotene offers protection against other diseases as well as some degenerative aspects of aging.
§       Squash is potassium rich. Potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure and is an important electrolyte for both heart and muscle function.
§       Winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin C, which aids in wound healing and is important for gum health. Growth and repair of tissues depends on vitamin C. Cartilage, scar tissue, ligaments and blood vessels depend on vitamin C for development. Vitamin C rich foods also help your body to better absorb iron from foods.

Weight Management Benefits of Winter Squash
§       Low calorie, nutrient dense foods that are a source of carbohydrate for working muscles (we are talking vegetables here!) should make up most of your plate. This can help to satisfy your hunger without the higher calorie, starchy foods such as potatoes, rice, and pasta.
§       Roasted pumpkin seeds can help take the edge of your appetite while providing iron for endurance, zinc for immune function and a dose of healthy unsaturated fats for muscle energy!

Athletic Performance Benefits of Winter Squash
Carbohydrates and protein are important to working muscles, before, during and after training. Get ready for action with a pre-workout snack of pumpkin nut bars; refuel and rehydrate after training with acorn squash soup.

(for more recipes go to

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Don't waste the seeds after making a jack-o-lantern for Halloween. Instead, roast and salt the seeds for a delicious and nutritious snack.
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
  2. Pick through seeds and remove any cut seeds. Remove as much of the stringy fibers as possible.
  3. Bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the seeds and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, spread on kitchen towel or paper towel and pat dry.
  4. Place the seeds in a bowl and toss with vegetable oil or melted butter.
  5. Spread evenly on a large cookie sheet or roasting pan.
  6. Place pan in a preheated oven and roast the seeds for 30 to 40 minutes. Stir about every 10 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.
  7. Cool the seeds, then shell and eat or pack in air-tight containers or zip closure bags and refrigerate until ready to eat.
Yield 2 cups
Pumpkin Nut Bars
  • 1 cup cooked pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine (melted)
  • 2 egg whites, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup chopped salted peanuts, pecans, or almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, beat egg whites slightly; add pumpkin and melted butter or margarine beat until smooth.
  2. In another bowl combine oats, brown sugar, coconut, wheat germ, and nuts.
  3. Fold oat mixture into pumpkin mixture to form stiff dough.
  4. Press dough into a lightly greased 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 inch jelly roll pan.
  5. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. While still warm, cut into 2x3 inch bars. Yield about 30 bars. Serve warm or cool completey.
Acorn Squash and Apple Soup

1 medium acorn squash
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek (white part only) rinsed well and chopped
1 tart apple (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored and chopped
3 cups fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp. minced fresh mint leaves, as garnish
Milk or additional broth to thin soup (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut acorn squash in half length-wise, remove seeds and pulp. Set on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the flesh is tender when pierced, roughly 45 to 90 minutes (depending on size). Remove squash from oven and allow to cool.

While the squash is cooling, in a large, heavy pan heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and leek and sauté for about 4 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the apple and cook over medium heat for 1 minute.

Scrape out the squash pulp and combine with the apple mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the broth to the pan, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and set the soup aside to cool slightly.

In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Return soup to pan and heat just before serving. Add milk or additional broth to thin soup, as desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish each serving with mint and serve.

Makes 5 servings.

Per serving: 103 calories, 3 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 18 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 330 mg sodium.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Its Time to Rethink Your Fat Intake!

With such a heavy focus on carbohydrate rich foods for endurance performance, fat has taken a back seat…much to the detriment of those us trying to train for peak health and performance. There is reason to believe that inadequate dietary fat may pose some key issues for endurance athletes. For example, muscle triglyceride (intramuscular fat) is a key source of energy for endurance training. A very low fat diet (<20% kcal from fat) may compromise these energy stores forcing the body to rely on the more limited muscle glycogen stores. This leads to premature fatigue when this fuel source runs out. A slightly higher fat diet may improve endurance performance by providing muscle fact as a ready fuel, preserving muscle glycogen for the final sprint! Here are some of the key “fat” issues and nutritional strategies to help you fine tune your fats:  

ISSUE #1 - Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K need dietary fat to be absorbed.

  • Use plant oil based salad dressings OR nuts and seeds to help absorb the fat soluble vitamins from leafy greens, salads and stir fried/steamed vegetables;
  • Choose 1% MF milk and yogurt to help absorb Vitamin D;
  • Combine fatty fish such as salmon, a source of omega 3 fats, with stir fried veggies/ salads
ISSUE #2 -  Avoid premature fatigue when training for endurance sport

  • Use nut butters, and avocado as spreads for sandwiches;
  • Combine nuts/seeds with cereals as a pre-workout snack; 
  • Mix nut butters with jam or honey in a squeeze tube and bring them along during training; 
  • Use 1% MF cottage cheese, eggs, fatty fish to top off salads
 ISSUE #3 - Long chain omega-3 fats help reduce post-workout inflammation and reduce recovery time after training/competition.

  • Choose fatty fish such as salmon for your post workout meal after tough training sessions
  • Make a post workout Omega 3 egg omelet, and have toast with omega 3 rich margarine
  • Choose omega 3 1-2% MF chocolate milk post workout

ISSUE #4 - A fat restricted diet can lead to deficiencies in a variety of minerals, such as iron, calcium and zinc

  • Choose a variety of low fat instead of fat free foods in your daily diet, such as 1% MF milk products and small amounts of cheese to ensure adequate calcium intake
  • Choose small servings of red meats such as beef to boost your iron intake;
  • Choose nut butters to top off bread and toast daily to ensure you zinc status stays optimal

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sodium – health vs. hazard for endurance athletes

In addition to carbohydrate, protein, fat and water, your body needs a minute amount of electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and chloride. Prolonged heavy sweating can lead to significant mineral losses (particularly of sodium), which can dilute the concentration of electrolyte minerals in the blood, effectively impairing thermoregulation, fluid balance, nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction. The most serious side effect of significant sodium loss is low blood sodium (hyponatremia). This is usually associated with excessive fluid replacement with fluids that contain little or no sodium.

Should I use a sport drink with added sodium?
Electrolyte containing drinks (e.g. sport drinks with sodium) and foods (e.g. salted pretzels) stimulate thirst, thereby encouraging a greater voluntary intake of fluid while optimizing sodium levels lost through sweat. This is important for very young athletes and older, masters athletes as their thirst mechanisms tend to be suboptimal. Foods and fluids containing sodium also help with recovery as the sodium has been shown to stimulate the process of post workout re hydration. Sodium, in appropriate concentrations, appears to enhance the rate of fluid absorption from the small intestine into the blood stream, especially when glucose is in the gut at the same time. So a sport drink effectively addresses fluid, sodium and glucose needs for effective maintenance of hydration and sodium balance during exercise.

Do I need to add sodium to my diet?
North American diets rarely lack sodium and even if sodium intakes are on the low side the body adapts by minimizing sodium losses in both sweat and urine, making deficiencies unlikely. Some people over 50 yrs of age are sodium sensitive and experience high blood pressure with excess sodium (salt) intake.

Take the Sodium Check Up to see how you rate:
Do you…
Shake salt on your food only AFTER you taste it? Yes No
Eat fresh/frozen vegetables rather than canned? Yes No
Eat processed meats only occasionally? Yes No
Skip salt in cooking? Yes No
Season foods mainly with herbs and spices? Yes No
Check sodium content of foods & buy those with less? Yes No

If you said NO to three or more you’re likely consuming more salt then you need. This might be an indication to follow the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet to help lower blood pressure. DASH is also a sport nutrition diet as it emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products; it includes whole grains, nuts, poultry and fish; and calls for reduced intakes of red meat, butter, and other high fat foods. DASH to it –

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chocolate Milk for Optimal Recovery

Much of the scientific work in optimizing recovery post workout has focused on the use of “experimental solutions” prepared in a laboratory designed to optimize specific components of foods (e.g. carbohydrate and protein) that may be useful in isolation to enhance sport performance. Unfortunately these solutions miss out on the “package” of nutrients found in foods, which work in concert to improve the health as well as the performance of a body undergoing the rigours of athletic training for sport performance.

However, in the last few years clinical research in sport nutrition has focused on a food that contains the potential to aid physically active men and women in their quest for losing excess body fat and gaining muscle mass, and to improve athletes’ refueling, re hydration and subsequent sport performance(1).That food is chocolate milk. It supplies a carbohydrate-protein combination that maximizes post workout recovery, it contains calcium and vitamin D which promote overall muscle, bone, and cardiovascular health; and it is a source of fluids for post-exercise replacement of sweat losses.

Chocolate milk has proven to be an effective food and fluid for optimal recovery from the stress of training for sport performance.Wilkinson et al, 2006 found that young men doing resistance training could get greater gains in muscle protein by drinking chocolate milk versus the equivalent amounts of a soy beverage. Karp et al. 2006 highlighted chocolate milk’s ergolytic potential for maintaining exercise performance in subsequent bouts of exhaustive endurance exercise when used as a post workout recovery drink. Shirrafs et al., 2007 recently pointed out that milk has potential to be more effective for post-exercise replacement of sweat losses and maintenance of euaydration when compared to water and commercially available sports drinks of similar concentration of carbohydrate.

Chocolate Milk’s Nutrient Power Punch Profile
Milk is 87 per cent water and the perfect beverage to hydrate our bodies before, during and after exercise. Milk also contains protein, minerals and vitamins essential for your body to recover.

Drinking milk after a resistance training workout promotes greater gains in muscle protein, which is important in repairing skeletal muscle damage caused by exercise

Drinking milk post workout contributes to greater gains in muscle mass and body fat loss than soy beverages or sport drinks.

Milk is effective as a post workout re hydrater.

For optimal recovery, encourage your athletes to include chocolate milk and to follow the R5 approach:
1. Re-energize muscles with carbohydrate rich foods such as breads and cereals, fruits, low fat chocolate milk and fruit yogurts for maximum energy;
2. Re-vitalize muscles with anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals found in brightly colored vegetables and fruits;
3. Re-build bones and muscles with protein and other essential nutrients found in low fat milk products, meats and alternatives
4. Re-oxygenate muscles with iron and protein found in meats, leafy green vegies, fortified grains and cereals;
5. Re-hydrate with water and other fluids, before, during, and after physical activity sessions.

(1) (Wilkinson et al., 2006. AJCN 85:1031-1040; Hartman et al., 2007, AJCN 86:373-381; Shirrafs et al., 2007 Br J Nutr; 98:173-180; Karp et al., 2006; IJSNEM, 16:78-91).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hydration, dehydration and Hyponatremia

Proper hydration before you exercise, monitoring your hydration status during exercise, and replacing fluid losses post-exercise are vital to ensuring your body has the fluids it needs to perform. Knowing how to approximate your fluid needs during workout, and recognizing the signs and symptoms of dehydration are vital to your athletic performance.

Just a decade ago, recommendations emphasized drinking as much as one could handle during exercise, however it is now recommended to replace at least 75% but not more than 100% of sweat losses. But don’t depend on your thirst mechanism to tell you when and how much to drink. Thirst is a poor indicator of hydration status, as an athlete can lose over 1.5 L of body water before becoming thirsty.

Sweat rates vary amongst individuals, and sweat losses of 1 – 2% of body weight compromises physiologic function, and harms exercise performance. A loss of 3% of one’s body weight increases the risk of heat cramps and heat exhaustion, where losses of 5% or more of body weight can cause heat stroke and a trip to the medical tent or closest hospital.

Weigh yourself before and after exercise to monitor your fluid losses. As a guideline, the American Dietetic Association suggests 1 Litre/kg of body weight lost during exercise.

Hyponatremia is a potentially fatal condition of low blood sodium levels. This can happen during prolonged exercise if sodium levels are not properly replenished, with salty snacks or electrolyte sport drinks. It can also happen from drinking too much water, which effectively dilutes the sodium content of the blood. Sodium losses range from 2.25 – 3.4 g/L of sweat (which is equivalent to about ½ tsp of salt). Conditioned athletes may be more efficient with their sodium losses, however this varies from person to person.

• Research indicates that ingesting 20 – 50 mEq (0.5 – 1.2 g) of sodium/L is effective in preventing hyponatremia. This is equivalent to less than ¼ tsp of salt per liter of water.

Some drugs such as NSAIDS (aspirin, ibuprofen) or diuretics have been shown to alter kidney function, which may exacerbate the risk of hyponatremia during long duration events. Athletes should be aware of this increased risk, know the signs and symptoms, ensure that they are not limiting dietary salt intake when in training, and ensure proper rehydration strategies are in place.

Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of dehydration and hyponatremia are very similar, and if incorrectly diagnosed can be detrimental, possibly even causing death. For example, an athlete suffering from hyponatremia can easily be mistaken as dehydrated, and drinking water, as one would do to treat dehydration, will only exacerbate the problem. Water will dilute the blood, thereby further decreasing its concentration of sodium, and worsening the symptoms of hyponatremia.


Loss of consciousness

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ottawa Race Weekend 2010 and Fluid Strategies

This Sunday (May 30th), the Ottawa race weekend had a great day for a race! The half and full marathon runners experienced relatively cool temperatures (< 16 C) – taking some pressure away from worrying about huge sweat losses and during run hydration to help minimize these losses to ensure peak performance. A number of runners have already emailed me to say that they achieved personal bests! But even though the temperature was relatively cool and there was a nice breeze to help cool runners’ bodies down, a hydration strategy was still important! The distance that you run, the pace/speed/intensity of your run, your fitness level, and the environmental conditions all contribute to what you should drink and when you should drink it.

Why are fluids important for distance runners?

. Drinking prior to and during a distance run can help with temperature regulation by preventing heat illness and dehydration.

. Drinking post-run is essential to optimize your fluid balance and ensure that you have enough circulating fluid to maintain blood volume, rehydrate intracellular water and maintain overall water balance.

. Drinking sufficient fluids throughout the day ensures that your kidneys have enough fluid to flush out all the waste products of your metabolism.

Before your run:
While water will help to ensure adequate hydration before your run, sport drinks not only help to rehydrate, but also ensure that your first source of energy, your blood sugar, is topped-up and ready to race.Whether during training or competition, being adequately hydrated is a huge advantage. The following chart can be used as a guideline to ensure you are drinking enough before you run.

How long before a run? How much?
4 hrs BEFORE....drink 5-7 mL/kg body weight
2 hrs BEFORE....drink 3-5 mL/kg body weight

During your run
Sweat rates can range from 0.4 Litres up to 1.8 litres per hour in a heavily sweating, big bodied person. Sweat rates also depend upon on the weather, the duration of your training session, and your training level. With this in mind, some runners find it difficult to consume enough fluid while running to replace the amount lost in sweat and prevent dehydration.

As a general guideline, drink 0.5 to 1 cup (0.4-0.8L) of fluid per hour.

Endurance formula sport drinks contain the same amount of carbohydrate as regular sport drinks, but almost twice the amount of electrolytes. Although beverages such as enhanced water or low calorie sport drinks help to ward off dehydration, they do not contain carbohydrates, and therefore do not provide adequate fuel during a run.
. Ideally, 15-20 g of carbohydrate per 250 ml is sufficient, with the type of sugar being glucose, sucrose, or maltodextrin with some fructose.
. Too much fructose, such as that found in fruit juice, has been associated with symptoms of upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in some athletes.
. 125-175 mg of sodium, and 20- 50 mg of potassium per 250 ml is ideal.

After your run
Replacing fluid and electrolyte loses is not only necessary for re hydrating post-run, but essential for athletes in training who may be running again the next day. Sport drinks help you to refuel and rehydrate at the same time. Runners should get in the practice of weighing themselves before and after a training session, and monitoring the conditions of their run in order to recognize and replace fluid loss, and ultimately maximize performance.

Aim to drink 1 - 1.5 L of fluid/kg of body weight lost during exercise.

Powerfuel™ Hydration Tip #1
Ice may improve your hot weather running performance.
Maintaining your running performance in hot weather may be as simple as drinking a slushy drink (ice-slurry) pre-run. Australian research suggests that a slushy drink could give you pretty significant performance benefits due to its effective cooling action compared to water. Runners drinking ice slurries pre-run were able to run for longer than when cold water was taken – likely because the runners were able to absorb more of the heat produced during their run then when cold water was consumed. So……load up on ice chips for your pre-race water bottle when running in the heat.

Powerfuel™ Hydration Tip #2
While water is often adequate, sport drinks are often more effective and provide additional energy and electrolytes to improve performance. Sport drinks are a great way to maximize fluid intake for athletes who do not enjoy drinking water, and therefore ingest inadequate amounts. The electrolytes in sport drinks also help to lock the fluid into the body.

Powerfuel™ Hydration Tip #3 - Train your gut (not just your legs) to run fast!
Training in an environment similar to where you will be competing is critical. Plan to acclimatize yourself to the weather conditions, the time of day, and the sport drink or gel used at that race. Surprises are part of the challenge (and the fun!) but training to your race will ensure that there you can handle anything that comes your way without jeopardizing your performance. Lastly, if you do not know which sport drink will be provided at the race, or if there will be any left when you get to the next station, BYOB (bring your own beverage)! This will ensure that your competition closely mimics your training and you will be prepared for anything. Remember, this is what you’ve trained for (and paid for), so enjoy it!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Ottawa Guide to the 100 mile diet

Buying local is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and support your local farmers. Not only is buying local environmentally friendly, but it a great way to get fresh fruits and vegetables that are grown locally so they don’t need to be genetically modified to control their ripening (which can compromise taste).

Below is a lost of Farmers Markets in the Ottawa area.

Here is a list of local markets to pick up your fresh produce

Ottawa Farmers Market
Location: Lansdowne Park
Hours:8 am – 3pm Sundays (May 4 – Oct 26); 2 – 7pm Thursdays (June 26 – Oct 30)
Website: www.

Byward Market
Location: Bordered by Sussex Dr, Cathcart, Rideau and Cumberland st
Hours: About May - Oct 7am - 6pm; Arts and crafts stalls open 9am – 9pm May to September

Ottawa Organic Farmers Market
Location: Canada Care Medical Inc. Parking lot at 1644 Bank St
Hours: 10 am – 2pm Saturdays

Ottawa Parkdale Market
Location: Parkdale Ave, north of Wellington
Hours: 7am – 6pm until Christmas eve

Carp Farmers Market
Location: 3790 Carp Rd (fairgrounds)
Hours: 8 am – 1 pm Saturdays

Cumberland Farmers Market
Location: 1115 Dunning Rd inside the R.J Kennedy Memorial Centre arena
Hours: 8 am – 1:30 pm Saturdays late June until Oct 11th

Metcalfe Farmers Market
Location: Metcalfe Fairgrounds
Hours: 8 am – noon Saturdays May – mid October

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Food For Thought: Eating to boost your mental game

Do you wake-up with little or no appetite?
Do you find it difficult to get through a high intensity workout in the morning?
Are you ravenously hungry mid-morning even though you ate “breakfast”?
Do you find it difficult to concentrate or focus on one task at work?
Do you feel tired and groggy an hour or so after lunch?
Are you cranky and irritable with family, friends and colleagues?
Do you get negative thoughts near the end of your evening training sessions?

If you answered ‘yes’ to some or all of these questions, there is likely a diet-related reason – you could be a meal skipper, a poor hydrator or you may be simply trying to run on empty calories. Follow these strategies to improve your mental AND physical performance.

Eat breakfast. Those runners who eat breakfast regularly are the fittest, leanest and likely the fastest runners amongst us. Breakfast is important to “break the fast,” reload the liver’s glycogen stores and get the brain and body ready to perform. Research has shown that carbohydrate-rich foods at breakfast tend to improve morning performance. So whether it’s a smoothie or peanut butter on toast, get those carbs into your morning routine.

Eat more frequently throughout the day. Spreading your food intake over four or more feeding sessions a day has been shown to enhance verbal reasoning— perhaps not a big deal for the lone long-distance runner, but it is important for those runners who use training times as a chance to socialize with friends or discuss work matters with fellow-runner colleagues. Enhanced verbal reasoning will come in handy for any runner trying to talk his/her spouse into yet another weekend away at the races!

Choose carbs for positive thoughts. A lack of carbohydrate-rich foods in your daily diet can quickly turn you into a whiny runner, or worse yet, one with negative or self-critical thoughts. Maintain happy thoughts by keeping your brain fed – it is a carb lover and it doesn’t care what form it comes in. There is a gender effect though - women tend to report greater sleepiness after a carbohydrate-rich meal as opposed to a protein-rich meal, whereas men report greater calmness after a carbohydrate-rich meal versus a protein-rich one. But for overall mental performance, low glycemic index foods such as oatmeal will be your best bet as they provide a long, slow release of carbs – just add some berries and maple syrup for an extra carb punch!

Drink throughout training sessions. Studies also suggest that drinking carbohydrate and carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks enhances feelings of pleasure during and following prolonged endurance activities. Anything that makes those grueling long runs feel better sounds good to us!

Keep that morning java. Research continues to show that caffeine has some mental benefits for those who are not caffeine sensitive. Two to three milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight has a positive effect on cognitive functioning, including your ability to pay attention, your psychomotor skills, and your memory. For those of you that do physical training that requires you to count laps, remember sets and reps (such as interval training) or pay close attention to what you are doing (such as highly technical trail running) the caffeine in your morning cup of coffee might be particularly helpful.

Choose protein for multi-tasking. Short term memory is best after a protein-rich breakfast like a vegetable omelette sans toast, while overall morning brain function is optimal with a meal that contains similar amounts of carbohydrate and protein-rich foods, such as two poached eggs on toast with tomato and low fat cheese.

Eat a high-carbohydrate, low-protein lunch, and your ability to concentrate in the afternoon takes a nosedive, predominantly from lapses of attention. This does not mean that you need to be eating huge hunks of meat for lunch or pounding back the protein rich shakes, mind you. Instead, choose smaller amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods (bread, pasta, rice, crackers, cookies, muffins, etc) to accompany your protein-rich foods (meat, poultry, fish, milk, yogurt, low fat cheese) at lunch time.

Enhance your mental (and physical) performance with iron-rich foods. Iron’s main job is carrying oxygen in your blood. It is part of a molecule called hemoglobin, which gives your blood its bright red color. Hemoglobin is like a magnet for oxygen – it carries the oxygen from your lungs throughout the body to wherever it is needed to release energy from the food that you eat. Too little iron in the diet can lead to iron deficiency anemia, which may make you feel weak, tired, and irritable. You may be too tired to train and may have trouble increasing the intensity of your training sessions—definitely not a great way to feel if you have a big season of running ahead of you!

To maximize your absorption of iron, choose foods with higher iron content more often, especially the more colorful foods, such as dark green veggies, ruby red meats, whole grains and cereals. Plant sources of iron are not absorbed as well as animal sources so non-meat eaters, especially active, menstruating women, need to pay attention to their dietary iron needs. Consuming foods rich in vitamin C—such as oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, and cantaloupe—with any iron rich food will improve absorption. Check out the chart below to see if you can improve your iron intake and absorption.

Plant sources of iron Maximize absorption with/in:
Bran flakes cereal, 30 gm Strawberries
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice Orange juice
Enriched pasta, ½ cup Tomato sauce
Raw spinach, ½ cup Lemon slices
Raisins, 2 tbsp Fruit salad
Tofu, 3 ounces (90 gms) Tomato and red pepper stir fry
Kidney beans,1/2 cup Tomato based chili

Animal sources of iron Iron content (mg)
Broiled Lamb chop, 90 gm 1.8 mg
Grilled Sirloin steak, 90 gm 2.8 mg
Roasted Pork tenderloin, 90 gm 1.4 mg
Roasted Chicken breast, 90 gm 0.9 mg
Baked Sole, 90 gm 0.4 mg

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Getting Back to Your Roots

We have had many different eating habits over time and all of them still exist today.

• The gatherer-hunter diet was based on survival!
10,000 years ago we spent most of our time and energy looking for food to keep us alive. This diet was rich in berries and plant leaves. We sometimes ate small animals or fish.

• The peasant-agricultural diet and the discovery of fire improved our diet.
5,000 years ago we began to grow our own grains, cereals, fruits and vegetables, and to raise our own cows, chickens and pigs. Fire let us cook our food. We baked grains into breads and cooked cereals into porridges. We cooked roots and meats until they were soft enough to chew. Eating all these healthy foods every day helped us to grow bigger, stronger and live longer. All the hard work made us physically fit.

• The urban-industrial diet of today focuses on processed foods and meats.
Today we eat many refined and processed foods such as white bread, french fries, soft drinks, candies, and doughnuts. Meat is the focus of our main meals and we often eat large amounts every day. Many of us have too much body fat because we eat too much and do not get regular physical activity. This can cause heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Let’s get back to our roots and eat better in 2010!
Choose vegetables, fruit and whole grains, breads and cereals more often. Focus on vegetables and fruit. Are you getting 5 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit every day? These foods may really reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. So snack on a fruit or vegetable today, and include brightly colored vegetables and fruit at all your meal times!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Exercise does NOT counteract your diet!

Over the last number of years the participation of men and women in the sport of running has been increasing. A casual glance at the body shapes and sizes at any race weekend and intuitively one could surmise that weight loss may be one of the drivers of this trend. But does indulging yourself with a favourite treat post run or using those long slow distance weekend runs as a rationale for an all you can eat brunch actually defeat your weight loss goals? Well….you might need to take heed of some dietary advice: exercise does not counteract your diet. Weight loss research consistently shows that if you want to lose body fat, your need to CONSISTENTLY eat fewer calories then your caloric output (basal metabolic rate + any physical activity needs). And this is where many of us overestimate output and underestimate input…….and current research shows that our caloric intake is influenced not only by plate sizes that our food is served on but also by the body types of who we choose to eat with – we model the eating behaviour of those we want to look like and/or perform like – so post workout refueling with a speedy and/or slimmer friend who is piling his or her plate with food may be ruining your weight loss goals IF you decide to follow their eating behaviour! Instead, make a plan for what you need to get post workout and stick to that plan. It is better to err on the side of slightly less than more than you need when it comes to calories in!