10 Nutrition Tips for March

Tips to eating healthy while travelling, more reasons to drink coffee, how to fuel your brain and your muscles, and much more.

1. Eating healthy while travelling is never easy. Here are some great tips from John Romaniello.

It is almost impossible to find healthy food at airports, which is why John recommends making travel days either your fast day (not eating) or your cheat day (indulging in the bad stuff).

My theory is simple: airport food and last minute meals are just not going to help you hit your goals. They just aren’t any good, and it’s impossible to stick to your dietary restrictions, count macros, etc. And even if you could, it’s a pain in the ass.

About a year ago, when traveling back and forth to between LA and NYC three times a month with my co-author Adam, we noticed that the days where we were physically traveling just went to dietary hell. We tried to be healthy and would buy mixed nuts or jerky at the airport, but it just wasn’t working. Drastic measures needed to be taken, so we came up with this feast or famine approach.

2. Some tips from Mark’s Daily Apple on how to start the day right.

Move

For me, there’s just no substitute for a morning walk. It’s something I’ve come to appreciate over the years. Nothing wakes me up, relaxes me, and focuses my thinking in quite the same way. That said, any kind of movement can energize you naturally and boost your circulation. Who doesn’t want to begin the day with an endorphin rush? Getting your workout in first thing means you won’t be tempted to skip it later when a meeting runs late, you have an event to attend, or you just want to chill out at the end of the day. If you can’t bring yourself to workout or walk, do whatever you can: lunges while you brush your teeth, calf raises while you eat your breakfast, stretches while you wait for the shower to warm up. Anything will always be better than nothing.

I usually don’t work out in the morning, but I always do some sort of stretching routine (as I am usually on the computer for most of the morning). I find myself a lot more productive after getting a good stretch in each morning.

And for the sake of completeness, here are some healthy ways to end the day.

A staple of my routine:

Create Order for the Next Day

A few minutes tonight will allow you to begin the next morning without undue stress and turmoil. Take care of business, write your to-do list, and you’ll sleep better knowing you’re ready for the day.

3. Here are some great (and healthy) herbs and spices to add to your cooking repertoire.  

And our favorite Rich Food spice is . . . Turmeric

This mildly woody spice is a key ingredient in many Indian, Persian, and Thai dishes. This “poor man’s” saffron is rich in benefits. The active ingredient, curcumin, is so powerful that it is commonly made into expensive nutraceutical capsules. According to Ajay Goel, Ph.D., Director of Epigenetics and Cancer Prevention at Baylor Research Institute in Dallas, “Curcumin is a complete well-being tonic – it benefits every organ in the body… It shows promise of fighting nearly every disease.” Dr. Goel suggests that curcumin aids in the prevention of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and depression.

Seems like turmeric is pretty healthy to say the least. I’m not a chef by any stretch of the imagination, but spices are a great way to add some flavour to anything, and a lot of them have tremendous health benefits, too. That is called a win-win.

4. What does the term “brain food” mean? Well, here are some foods that provide nutrients to get your brain firing on all cylinders.  

Choline

Choline is used by the brain to make neurotransmitters, plays an important role in memory formation and is important for overall well-being. A lot of people are not getting enough because they’ve been scared off of healthy traditional foods like eggs and liver.

Good sources of choline are:

Eggs [choline is found in the yolk]. If you like eggs, try to have 6 eggs a week
Beef and chicken liver. If you like liver, having 3 oz of liver, 3-4 times per month is a good guideline
Fatty fish: salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout and herring
Soy lecithin

5. And here are some foods to help you add some muscle.

Cold Water Fish 

Salmon is probably the best fish for muscle, but it’s only worth it if it is wild since farm-raised is fed grain, animal byproducts, and who knows what else. Go for a variety of cold-water fish because they are high in omega-3 fats for insulin health, high in protein, and contain those muscle building nutrients like creatine and carnitine. Mackerel, smelt, shad, perch, sardines and anchovies are some of the best. Just avoid anything that comes in a can if it’s not BPA free, and only eat wild fish from places you trust.

As someone who grew up eating fish, it is hard to find anything that tastes better than a nice piece of fresh salmon. I eat a lot of canned fish as well (more for the health benefits, it doesn’t taste all that good).

6. Here are some interesting health tips from the Balanced Bites Nutrition Workshop in Washington, DC.

Eating real food is not expensive for most Americans and other human beings living in the developed world. Do you own a television? Cable? Do you drink alcohol? Do you spend too much money on entertainment? Instead you can go for a hike with family, friends or even alone can be just as fun and much more rewarding. Do you own a bunch of stuff that is not adding value to your life?

One thing I used to tell my clients that seemed to resonate – treat food as an investment, not an expense. Spending extra on healthy, whole foods will make you feel better and look better. Food isn’t an expense in the sense that you have alternatives – what you eat is what you are. Eat healthy, feel good. Eat crappy, feel bad. It isn’t rocket science.

7. An interesting look at protein requirements over the human life cycle. 

Sure, most of the growth we experience up to our mid-twenties is good growth (most – the fat gains still aren’t exactly good for you), but for the other 60-80 years of life, growth is something we want in small doses and in the right places.

What I’m getting at is this – high protein when you have the ability to increase your muscle size seems to be a good idea… but once your are done growing (and we ALL reach this point) then maybe it’s time to scale the intake down.

I’m not suggesting zero protein. I’m suggesting that you see how low you can go while still maintaining your muscle mass, then stay there.

An interesting idea – protein cycling.

As a compromise between muscle and longevity, it may be beneficial to eat high protein during the important part of muscle building (the first couple years) then once you’ve reached the upper limit for your frame and genetics, keep protein ‘lowish’ for most of the year and then increase it occasionally for small 8-12 week periods of muscle gains or fat loss. I still don’t think the increased protein will make a large difference, but I do think it beats eating high protein all the time.

8.Is breakfast overrated?

I have been experimenting with not eating for a few hours after waking up. So far, so good. I find myself less hungry in the morning, too.

Some tips:

The take home message is avoid insulin-spiking foods (carbs) in the early part of the day, especially so if you work a sedentary desk job, and then fill up on carbs at night after exercise when your body is primed to absorb them properly—in muscle cells.

Further still, eating carbs increase serotonin and make you sleepy, which would suggest the best time to eat them would be a few hours before bed time, right? I’m sure you’ve experienced this phenomenon after a heavy work lunch at Earls, with your afternoon productivity less than ideal that afternoon as a result.

And:

I recommend delaying breakfast by a few hours upon waking to increase fat burning and get your body primed for the calories to follow later in the day. If you deal with hunger pains early on, try drinking a cup or two of black coffee. Or, if you simply cannot drink it straight, my suggestion is to add a tsp of coconut oil and half a scoop of whey protein to it. Mixes well, tastes good I swear, and doesn’t have any carbs, meaning your productivity won’t slow down at the office! Almond milk and stevia might work here too, but be careful not to use an almond milk brand with added sugar. That would defeat the purpose.

9. More reasons to drink coffee!

There are a lot of interesting studies to read about if you click on the above link.

Here is one:

COFFEE MAY DECREASE YOUR RISK OF DYING

Many people still seem to think that coffee is unhealthy.

This isn’t surprising though, since it is very common for conventional wisdom to be at exact odds with what the actual studies say.

In two very large prospective epidemiological studies, drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death by all causes (28). This effect is particularly profound in type II diabetics, one study showing that coffee drinkers had a 30% lower risk of death during a 20 year period (29).

Bottom Line: Coffee consumption has been associated with a lower risk of death in prospective epidemiological studies, especially in type II diabetics.

Well that headline sure doesn’t beat around the bush, does it? As always, these coffee studies imply drinking black coffee, and not something loaded with cream and/or sugar.

10. New York’s city-wide ban on large soda beverage containers was unfortunately shot down by a judge. 

Sure, at the end of the day, people should be able to make their own health choices. But with such an obesity epidemic in the States, people are proving that they are unable to make the right decision.

Reactive health care has made many people very rich (medication for diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol  and so on), but the real solution would be to focus on preventative measures (healthy eating, a more active lifestyle, and so on). Unfortunately, not enough people seem prepared to make this radical shift in thought process.

The American Heart Association says Americans take in an average of 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day — about 355 calories’ worth. It can have not just the obvious results, like obesity and diabetes, but also indirect harms: People who eat more sugar are also more likely to develop high blood pressure and other heart risks.
With two-thirds of Americans overweight or obese, it’s clear there is a problem. And a new study out Tuesday found that the more sugar-sweetened drinks that kids consumed, the more calories they got from other sources, too. In other words, kids who drink sugary beverages also eat other foods high in calories, the team at the University of North Carolina found.

Mayor Bloomberg will keep fighting for the ban, though.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he’ll appeal the judge’s ruling, which State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling Jr. called “arbitrary and capricious.”

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