Whole Versus Refined Carbohydrates
• There are three main types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches, and fiber.
• You’ll also likely hear them referred to as “whole/complex” versus “refined/simple” carbs.
• Whole or simple carbs are unprocessed and have all of their natural fiber content intact.
• Refined or complex carbs have been processed, which causes the fiber content to be removed or altered.
• Examples of whole/complex carbs include: whole grains, vegetables, potatoes, quinoa, legumes, nuts.
• Examples of refined/simple carbs include: white bread, pastries, sugary drinks, candy, cookies.
• Refined carbs tend to cause larger spikes in blood sugar levels because they’re low in fiber and digested quickly. This usually causes you to have a post-carb crash and can lead to additional cravings and hunger signals. This type of carb usually doesn’t provide much nutritional benefit.
• Whole carbs usually contain more nutrients and fiber and will spike blood sugar levels much less than refined carbs. These are better choices for carbs and contain all their natural fiber and typically offer more nutrition than refined carbs.
• Instead of focusing on carbs as being “good” or “bad”, focus on increasing whole carb options over refined.
What Are Macros?
• “Macro” is short for “macronutrient”.
• It refers to one of the three categories of nutrients you eat most often - protein, carbs, and fats.
• If you hear someone say they’ve been “counting their macros” it simply means they’re tracking what types of food they eat to determine the balance of protein, carbs, and fats they’re consuming.
• You can use this balance to try and achieve different fitness and nutrition goals such as adding muscle or reducing body fat.
• There’s no standard amount of macros that one person should eat, as it all depends on your individual makeup. It’s best to see where you’re at currently, use that as your baseline, and then make changes to see what works best for your body.
• Counting macros doesn’t replace counting calories, unfortunately. You still have to take calories into account but it will show you what kind of calories your diet is made up of.
• Apps like MyFitnessPal and LoseIt make it fairly easy to see how the food you eat throughout the day stacks up as macros.
Protein is a critical part of a healthy diet. It supports a wide variety of functions in your body and you hear people talk about it quite a bit in regards to nutrition. Why’s it such a big deal?
Along with exercise and strength training, consuming protein supports healthy muscle mass by improving the repairing and building of new muscle tissue after a strenuous workout.
You may have noticed that sometimes after you eat certain things, you don’t feel full. Protein has been shown to reduce the hunger hormone ghrelin, leaving you feeling satisfied after a meal that includes good amounts of protein. Goodbye, cravings!
While it doesn’t guarantee no sickness will happen, protein is an important part of fighting off viruses and bacteria. Consuming protein stimulates your immune system and provides it with the materials it needs to increase your defenses.
After an injury or an intense workout, protein helps your body heal by rebuilding tissues that were damaged, hopefully coming back even stronger than they were before.
After you eat protein, the process of breaking it down for digestion requires more energy than most other macros, which can give your body a temporary metabolism boost.
Healthy Salty Snack Ideas
Just like when a sweet tooth craving hits, the quest for salty snacks can be powerful too. Unfortunately some of them come with nutritional baggage like high calorie counts and too much grease and unnecessary fat. Keep an eye on your sodium intake, especially if you have high blood pressure, but your body does need some salt for normal functions. Here are some ideas you can reach for to satisfy your craving and stay on track:
Olives contain high amounts of antioxidants and pair well with a couple of cheese slices for a low-carb snack.
• Roasted Seasoned Chickpeas
Easy to make with lots of flavor, crunch, and even some protein and fiber.
• Salted Macadamia Nuts
Watch the portions but these can be really satisfying and pair well with fruit for a salty/sweet combo.
• Cottage Cheese
On its own, cottage cheese has around 30% of your daily sodium recommendation per cup so it can help knock out that salty craving.
• Cheese and Crackers
A classic combo where you can pick out the best crackers for your needs (whole grain ingredients, 3g of fiber, no added sugars) and pick your favorite cheese. Very satisfying!
• Rice Cakes and Nut Butter
Adding a couple tablespoons of your choice of nut butter to a whole grain rice cake makes them way more exciting and you’ll end up getting some healthy fats, fiber, and complex carbohydrates.
Foods for Seasonal Allergy Relief
Spring is a wonderful time of year where everything comes to life with bright colors but it can be hard to enjoy if you suffer from seasonal allergies. Everything from headaches to congestion to itchy eyes are all a part of welcoming in the new season for those with allergies. Here are some foods that may help get you through:
🌼 Fresh Vegetables
Vegetables are always a good idea. For allergy relief go with carrots, yams, cabbage, beets, and Swiss chard as they’re high in quercetin. This natural compound can reduce inflammation and block histamines.
🌼 Citrus Fruits
Citrus is high in vitamin C, which can help soothe irritation of the upper respiratory system that can be caused by airborne pollen.
🌼 Spicy Foods
If congestion has you down, consider adding flavorful and spicy dishes like curry or spicy salsa to your menu. Cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger, and cinnamon can all help open up your nasal passages to get things moving and even break down toxins in your body.
A compound in turmeric called curcumin can help calm a variety of inflammatory conditions. Turmeric can be taken as pills or it can be ground up and sprinkled on foods such as eggs, soups, or beans. Adding black pepper with it helps your body absorb it even better.
Not only are tomatoes a good source of vitamin C, they also contain an antioxidant called lycopene that can help reduce inflammation in your body. It’s been found that lycopene is absorbed better when the tomatoes have been cooked.
New research has proven that Popeye was onto something - leafy greens like spinach and kale can boost the function of your muscles.
• In a recent study, participants that consumed high levels of greens saw an increase in strength of 11% and an increase in walking speed of 4% compared to those who ate few greens.
• Leafy greens are high in nitrates, which help open up your blood vessels to improve blood flow and delivery of oxygen to your muscles.
• During exercise, oxygen plays a critical role in muscle performance and can even act as fuel for your muscles.
• Taking care of your muscles can help make everyday tasks easier and prevent injuries.
• The study found that the most beneficial greens were lettuce, spinach, kale, and beetroot due to their high levels of nitrates. Fennel radishes, cabbage, and arugula are also good sources of nitrates.
Ham Nutrition Facts
With Easter Sunday coming up tomorrow, it’s possible you’ll find ham on your plate as over 100 million pounds of ham is typically sold each year in the US leading up to the holiday. Here are some quick nutrition facts for ham:
• Ham is low in carbs, fat, and calories but is relatively high in protein.
• A 2oz serving (3-4 thin slices) typically contains:
Sodium: 26% DV
Selenium: around 60% DV
Phosphorus: 11% DV
Zinc: 9% DV
Potassium: 6% DV
Iron, Copper, Magnesium: 3% DV
• Ham’s high amounts of selenium can be used to help with thyroid health, boosting your immune system, DNA production, and protecting cells from free radicals.
• All nine essential amino acids can be found in ham, which makes it a complete protein.
• The phosphorus, zinc, and potassium help your body with fighting infections, keeping your heart healthy, and giving you energy for activities.
• Keep in mind the high amounts of sodium in ham, especially if you have conditions like high blood pressure or heart disease.