10 Nutrition Tips for April

Some quick and easy (and healthy) recipes, Greek yogurt, a book recommendation, the truth about carbs, and much more.

1. Eating and cooking healthy foods doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task. Here are 10 quick and easy meals that take 10 minutes (or less) to put together.

An interesting alternative to a burger:

Lettuce-wrapped burger

  1. Instead of cooking the seasoned ground beef all together in a pan, form into little burger patties.
  2. Cook on a grill or medium-high pan to your desired level of doneness. I like a little pink in the middle of my burger.
  3. Wrap in two pieces of lettuce and top with your favourite burger toppings. I love avocado, grilled onions, and a fried egg. 

2. What you eat has an enormous impact on how you look and feel - and your diet is very related to acne (at any age), or a lack thereof. 

It is time to stop blaming genetics. And before using medication with side-effects, try changing up your diet (under the supervision of a physician, of course).

As these connections become clearer, more dermatologists are telling their blemish-plagued patients to stop blaming genetics and start watching what they eat. “I think the high-glycemic American diet explains a lot of the adult acne we see,” says Dr. Valori Treloar, an integrative dermatologist and coauthor of ‘The Clear Skin Diet.’

Along with cutting down on dairy and low-nutrient processed junk, Treloar suggests eating lots of antioxidant-rich and high-fiber whole foods that are low on the glycemic index. “In general, eating for clear skin is the same as eating for good health,” she says. “Your skin needs building blocks to regenerate and repair just as the rest of your body does.”

3. Looking for a good fitness/nutrition/lifestyle book to read? John Romaniello and Adam Bornstein have just released Engineering the Alpha. 

Some of what the book contains:

  • Want to lose body fat? That’s easy—you can drop 20 pounds in 6 weeks.

  • Want bigger muscles? Done. A 50-pound increase to your bench press, coming right up.

  • Want to be smarter? Not a problem—the strategies in this book have been proven to improve brain function.

  • Want an awesome sex life? Yeah, there’s a fix for that, too—increased libido and improved performance are just weeks away.

One thing I particularly like about the book is that it prescribes healthy and safe ways to improve your life. Instead of always turning to medication and reacting to what happens, it is much safer, cheaper, and better to take the preventative and proactive route (usually through diet changes and a healthy lifestyle).

And getting a strong endorsement from Arnold Schwarzenegger can’t hurt, either.

4. The truth about carbs (no, they aren’t completely evil).

Carbs are important. In fact, it’s very easy to argue that carbohydrates (mostly the right kind, more on that in a moment) are essential to your diet. And lumping all carbs together into one category is like saying all the Baldwin brothers are the same. (Sorry, Billy. No offense.) After all, it’s hard to call all carbs bad when vegetables are carbohydrates, and so are fruits.

Poor Billy Baldwin. And some great advice (especially the first two sentences):

Some people will thrive on more carbs, while others will suffer. Your best bet is to play around with food options that are both healthy and work for you. This is the “sustainability diet” and while it’s not really a diet (or all that exciting), it is the best approach to dietary success. Take it from one of the best nutritionists in the world: “Your carb intake should be individualized according to your personal preference, tolerance, and athletic and aesthetic goals,” says Aragon.

5. How long does it take to get hydrated? 

How long does it take to get hydrated before training? Just 45 minutes, says a recent study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Challenging the popular notion that complete hydration requires you to drink yourself into a water-induced coma, this study shows that just 600ml of water ingested 45 minutes prior to training is enough to take an athlete from mildly dehydrated to fully hydrated.

Interesting result to the above study, as it flies in the face of what we have been told over the years (drink water until you feel like a fish). This study did take people who were only mildly dehydrated, and it only pertains to the before part of exercise. And it confirms what we have read in many places – plain old water usually does the trick.

6. Greek yogurt is a great addition to your diet (and in particular your smoothie recipe).

What is it?

Greek yogurt is made when yogurt is strained (sometimes more than once) with a cloth or paper bag or a filter to remove more whey, resulting in a product that has a thicker consistency. Some yogurt makers might boil off excess water, and others might add cream or milk powder to the milk to further enrich the yogurt. “Greek-style” yogurt, however, is thickened with thickening agents and may or may not be strained.

Stay away from the fruit-flavoured ones (added sugars). The low fat option is good for people, and the regular fat option is good too. As always, it depends on what works for you and what your fitness/body composition goal(s) are.

7. A good friend of mine is helping to spearhead the 60 Minutes Kids Club, a not-for-profit aimed at educating and inspiring children to eat well and get active. 

The 60MKC was designed through the challenge of two elementary school teachers who requested an activation program that was not extra work for the teachers and had sustainability.

We took the challenge and researched best online and offline practices through UBC in 08/09. The clearest feedback included the following:

No more education and information campaigns – we want activation
No more year long programs that lose their luster 3 weeks in
No cost to the schools, teachers or students etc.

Sounds like a pretty good cause to me. Right now it is in BC and Ontario, and the plans are in place for a much larger roll-out in the coming years. Check out the website for more information, especially if you have children in the above locations and want to get them and their schools involved!

8. Taco Bell is aiming to have a healthier menu…. by 2020. 

Why would people even go to a Taco Bell expecting to get something healthy? To me this seems like a band-aid to the problem of obesity (especially in America). The convenience of Fast Food often wins out, but people (especially children, who learn so much of their dietary habits from their parents) need to be educated on what they are eating and how it affects them.

Cosmetic promises like this are merely sidestepping the issue.

9. Here’s a quick interview with Brad Pilon, an expert on intermittent fasting.

On the difference between intermittent fasting and more typical “diets:”

Dieting is a slow, inevitable march to failure. … You are constantly getting to eat, so you don’t learn to be patient, knowing that a good meal is going to come. And you have to make tonnes and tonnes of food-based decisions. By deciding to diet, you largely increase the amount of your mind space that’s preoccupied with food.

10. Every few months I’ll track calories for a few days, just to get a rough idea of where I am at. 

Livestrong’s Daily Plate website/app is a phenomenal resource. For people who aren’t seeing the results they want, I’d highly recommend doing this.

Counting calories all the time is an impossible task (unless you want to have absolutely no life), but it is a good reminder every once in a while to make sure you are on track with what you re eating. If you are going to the gym and working out really hard without seeing much of anything in the way of improvements, it is your diet that is holding you back.

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