The NYT published an interesting story yesterday about foods that claim to be healthy. A perfect example is Cheerios. TV commercials claim that eating Cheerios can lower your cholesterol because it has fiber. While Cheerios may have fiber, the amount of Cheerios you’d have to eat to see a positive effect is insane. The article continues by saying that all these foods and drinks that are marketed to us as being nutritional, really aren’t.
Ultimately, I believe your best bet is to buy food that is fresh and as natural as possible. In other words, get fresh tomatoes instead of a can of tomatoes. Get fresh apples, instead of artificially sweetened apple juice. I understand sometimes you just have to buy canned food, but in those cases, always read the labels. Knowing what you eat, knowing how you fuel your body, is just as important as the exercise you do every day.
Another interesting health article in the New York Times this week. New research may suggest that “people who regularly work out don’t need to worry about consuming fructose or other sugars. In certain circumstances, they may even find the sweet stuff beneficial.” Here’s why.
Your liver stores glycogen (energy), which is depleted during long, intense workouts (this is why people start to “fade” during intense workouts). If you want to replenish your energy, researchers have concluded that fructose-sweetened drinks are twice as effective as glucose-sweetened drinks in stimulating the liver to recover. Now this isn’t a green light to sugar load, but it is interesting for marathoners and people who perform very intense workouts.
This is one of those studies that invites more questions than it does answers. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that men with the highest blood percentages of DHA — an omega-3 fatty acid commonly found in fatty fish such as salmon — have 2.5 times the risk of developing aggressive, high-grade prostate cancer compared to men with the lowest DHA levels. In other words, there’s an association between the two. (It’s not certain that x leads to y. Just an association at the moment.)
Omegas-3s are highly beneficial for cardiovascular health, so this study throws everything for a loop. Now, there are some holes in the story which invite more questions. Was the fish they ate farmed? What other details do we know about the men who developed prostate cancer, in particular about their lifestyle? If anything, this study reminds us that moderation is really the key to any healthy lifestyle.
Is it worth changing your diet because of this? Most definitely not. I’d continue eating as much fatty fish as possible. Afterall, heart disease is the real killer in this country.
I mentioned last month that I’m trying to watch what I eat after my workouts. It’s something that I’ve never really focused on before. Well, here’s another article (courtesy of my gym, Equinox) that helps give you an idea of what you should eat after and before each workout.
Personally, I’ve been eating either fruit (an apple and a banana), or a serving of Greek yogurt (I personally love Chobani because it’s low in sodium and has no cholesterol), or if it’s an evening workout — I’ll have fish and vegetables. My new way of thinking is: Intense workout + proper post workout nutrition + sleep/rest = win!
As much as I love talking about my workouts, from time to time I will talk about what I eat. These past few days I’ve been very selective with what I eat. I’ve mentioned before that I juice about 6x week. I’m shortening that to 5x week. The two days I don’t juice I try to eat at least 5 servings of fruits/veggies. (I actually shoot for that everyday, but more so when I don’t juice.) Here’s the rundown of what I’m doing:
*Juicing 5x week
*Eating min. of 5 servings of fruits/veggies per day
*Eating an apple or Asian pear once a day
*Eating plenty of fresh blueberries
*Eating Greek yogurt w/ walnuts after my workouts (both cardio and weight workouts)
*Eating fish (especially salmon) at least 3x week
*Cooking only w/ extra virgin olive oil
*Eating about 4 avocados per week
*Eating lots of green/leafy veggies along with colorful veggies (like beets)
*Drinking water only!
*Avoiding red meat / poultry / pig / eggs
*Eating lots of black beans and chick peas
*Eating broccoli (not juicing it) at least 2x week
*Looking at nutritional labels before buying food (esp looking at sodium count)
*Buying fruit/veggies that look fresh and are either local or organic
*Making sure I eat a good variety of fruits/veggies
*Hitting the steam room 6x week
One other thing I’ve done in the past year is limit the amount of hard liquor I drink. I don’t care if it’s a 20-year old whisky, I’d rather drink red wine than hard liquor. I haven’t eliminated hard liquor completely (maybe once a month I’ll have that whisky), but like I said — I’m trying to eliminate it as much as possible. Red wine I’ll have maybe once or twice a week.
I’ve been following this diet for at least 6 months and I feel really great. I wouldn’t even call it a diet, it’s more a lifestyle that I’m leading and while this is my personal/customized nutrition plan, I highly recommend one or any of these tips for your own nutritional plan. It’s not cheap (I try to keep costs down by buying seasonal produce), but it makes me feel great, and there’s no price on that feeling.
Last week my girlfriend got me a gift certificate for Suburban Organics. Suburban Organics delivers organic fruits and veggies straight to your door on a weekly, bi-weekly, etc. basis. (They only deliver to the tri-state area within New York.) Each week you log onto your account to see that week’s menu and you’re allowed to make up to 5 substitutions. So if, for example, you hate onions and that particular week onions are included in your box, you can substitute them for something else. I like eating healthy so this gift was perfect for me.
I quickly set up my account (you’ll need a credit card) and last Thursday I received my first shipment (I opted for the smallest package called the “little box”). The Little Box costs $25 (shipping included) and is described on SU’s site as the “perfect starter box for the single cook, roommates, or a couple.” I would agree with the single part, but for a couple, it’s a tad too little in my opinion. Anyway, my box included 4 bananas, a head of garlic, 2 kiwi, 2 apples, 2 danjou pears, 1 avocado, half a head of red leaf lettuce, a bunch of carrots, and a bunch of broccoli. The produce is wrapped in a clear plastic bag and shipped in a brown box. (I have a doorman, so delivery was not an issue for me.) The good news is that everything looked and tasted great. The kiwi was delicious and sweet, the avocado arrived ripe and ready to eat, the broccoli was nice and purplish in color, and the bananas were thin, but sweet. As far as quality, I give SU a perfect score.
This week I decided to do a taste test so I got some kiwi from my local Whole Foods and believe it or not, but Whole Foods’ “Italian” kiwi was nowhere near as tasty as SU’s California kiwi. Whole Foods’ kiwi was actually a bit bitter. I noticed that Whole Foods also sells braeburn apples and danjou pears, but I wasn’t able to do a direct price comparison because SU doesn’t always tell you what each item in your box costs. They do, however, list weekly specials which you can add to your box for an additional cost. This week blueberries were the special item. SU sells 6 oz. of blueberries for $2.99. Whole Foods sells 16 oz. of blueberries for $4.50. I realize SU must factor in the cost of shipping, but if Whole Foods’ blueberries are also organic, then SU isn’t really saving me money now is it?
And that brings me to my only gripe with SU. I can’t tell if it’s saving me money or not. Granted, SU doesn’t claim to be a money-saving service, but in today’s economy, I don’t want to spend more money than I need to. My Little Box didn’t last me a full week and Saturday afternoon I found myself back at Whole Foods shopping for more apples and some produce (such as celery) that wasn’t included in my box. My second SU box arrives tomorrow and this time around I’ll try to do a better price comparison.
Back in July I took my fitness test at Equinox and found out my body fat was 25.9%. I was very displeased and intensified all of my cardio workouts from that day forward. Well, it paid off ’cause I took a re-evaluation test today and my body fat is now 18%. Woo-hoo! Not only that, but my blood pressure is 107/60 and I now weight 238 lbs. (I’m not that trusting of the scale though, so I’ll say I’m still at 245 lbs.)
My trainer also did the flexibility test and told me I had improved over the last time. Overall, I was in damn good shape. Next week we meet again for my free personal training session. I’m very psyched to see what kind of workout plan he’ll give me. Mind you, this is the same trainer who gave me those training pointers. So overall, I’m psyched with the news. My goal is still to attain a 9% body fat percentage.