Recipe: How to poach eggs and Salmon Benedict

I had never poached eggs until this weekend and holy moly – it’s a lot easier than I thought it would be.

If we had to rank egg styles in order of what I think is easiest to hardest to prepare the list would go:

  1. Scrambled
  2. Frittata
  3. Over medium
  4. Over easy
  5. Sunny-side up
  6. Hardboiled
  7. Omelet
  8. Poached

I never seem to get the timing just right on hardboiled eggs and I’ve ripped a number of omelets in the flipping process – trust me, it wasn’t pretty.

On Saturday, JP and I went to BJ’s Wholesale for our biweekly grocery haul and I had decided to change up some of my fat sources as well as my vegetables. We typically get our vegetables and fruits based on what’s on sale, however, going to the wholesale club drastically decreases the cost of items like blueberries, avocados and bell peppers. We still try to be mindful of how much we’re investing into our groceries in cost as well as our taste buds – when you buy bulk you are dedicating many meals to these items.

This haul resulted in whole eggs, avocados and smoked salmon as new fat sources. Blueberries, potatoes, green beans and bananas as newer vegetable and fruit carbohydrate sources.

After I got the haul home, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do with the parts I bought. Since I’ve changed my first rest day to Sunday, the first thing I thought about was breakfast and I got to searching.

First of all, I looked at a few different sites to poach an egg and I wish there had been more consistency because some were just awful. The first one resulted in an egg in the trash – so sad. Thankfully, after reading through more recipes I was able to get it right.

What You’ll Need for Poaching

  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Whole eggs
  • Medium pot
  • Slotted spoon

Directions

  1. Fill a medium-sized pot with water and set to medium high heat. You want to get the pot to a low boil.
  2. Once, the water is at a boil, add 1 to 1 and a half tablespoons of white distilled vinegar.
  3. Crack an egg into a cup or small container that you can use to help slide the egg into the boiling water and turn the temperature down a little.
  4. Once the egg is in the water, set a timer for 2 minutes.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, gently scoop the egg and shake off any water.

The vinegar helps prevent the egg whites from separating and as the water boils the whites start to cook into themselves and appear as though they were cooked in the shell of the egg. 

What You’ll Need for Hollandaise Sauce for 2

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of  butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Small pot
  • Whisk

Directions

  1. In a regular bowl (what I call a cereal bowl), beat egg yolks only with 1 tablespoon of water and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Mixture will be a bit fluffy and frothy.
  2. Transfer mixture into a small pot over medium heat. Allow pot to warm up and then start stirring or whisking. I have a small whisk, a traditional size whisk may be too big and you may want to use a fork.
  3. Continue to whisk for about 5 minutes or until yolk mixture has appear to slightly cooked. As your whisking, the mixture will become more fluffy and increase in volume. The coloring will also darken.
  4. Once it appears that is has cooked, remove from heat and mix in butter.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add cayenne for spice – JP tops his with hot pepper sauce instead.

Assembly

If you want to add a grain, I would recommend toasting it so that it’s sturdy. You could also eliminate the grain and add starch like a baked red potato or sweet potato. If you’re interested in keeping it lower carb you can have the egg without a grain or starch.

  1. Layer sliced salmon on top of toasted English muffin.
  2. Gently place poached egg.
  3. Finish off with a spoonful or two of Hollandaise sauce.

Notes:

Keto/Higher fat diets: for those who do follow a higher fat, lower carbohydrate diet and are looking for healthy fats to incorporate into breakfast, the poached egg with smoked salmon may be a good option. The Hollandaise does also have yolks and butter, which do contain saturated fats so moderation should be practiced – this isn’t a meal I would necessarily recommend for every day, but if it’s balanced with other lean proteins and other unsaturated fats, I don’t think it’s a problem.

Paleo/Whole Foods approach: Eliminating the grain and substituting for a different base (if desired) could be a good approach. You can also change out the butter for a paleo/whole foods approach approved butter or ghee.


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Day 208, Quote 21: “How do you measure, measure a year?”

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee….

Well, it’s more like 518,057 pounds.

I’ve backed off tracking my weight weeks ago, but there are a few numbers that I’ve been watching: measurements, weight lifted, steps…

In the spring I had said that I wanted to get a few pounds off, but I had also said that I wanted to see a change in my measurements in my lower body and feel better in my clothes. I had explained that while I knew what my weight had been with previous smaller measurements, I knew that I had regained fat in different places and some muscle as well, which meant that fat loss could look different and reflect differently on the scale. So while I periodically checked the scale, I relied on how I physically felt in my clothes and focused more heavily on my measurements.

As someone who has only been their ideal size for just over two years, it’s still weird to think that the scale isn’t the only measurement for progress. It’s easy for me to tell clients that we need think about energy levels, weight pushed and pulled in the gym, how they feel in their clothes – but it’s still a pep talk I have with myself too.

Thirteen weeks ago I restarted the PH3 program by Layne Norton. It’s a power and strength program and this was the second time I’ve done it. I like the program because it is strength based and I like the lifting splits. One thing I don’t like about it is that I have found it hard to add other movements to it such as running or yoga without feeling like I’m doing too much.

I’m a big believer that you don’t need to spend hours in the gym to reach your health goals – I’m sure Cristina a few years ago didn’t believe it, but there’s more to life than the gym.

I did change up the accessories in the program because at some point calf raises just aren’t exciting and there’s more to engage your hamstrings than curls. Outside of some accessories tweaks I’ll call them, it was difficult to much else.

The big three – squat, bench and deadlift.

I like two of the three – squat and deadlift. However, I had never had access to bumper plates and I found myself struggling to trust myself with heavier (relative) weight in my deadlift so I don’t believe I ever really saw my true potential until changing to this gym.

After surgery I also feared the pull movement because of how it engaged my core. While I have strong core muscles and am capable of other lifts, I still find – two years later – that hitting the breaks hard in the car bothers my stomach, laughing or sneezing the wrong way causes a slight pain every now and then – go figure there’s a wrong way to do those things.

Just for baseline.

  • My squat at its heaviest a year ago was 205 pounds.
  • My deadlifts at its heaviest this past spring was 155 pounds.
  • My bench at its heaviest a year ago was 85 pounds.

My lifting was inconsistent from last June to this past March. I found routine with my running and yoga in the fall. I continued yoga into the late winter until I felt that I wasn’t able to commit to the classes because of the change in my academic schedule. I created a new routine with getting to the gym, but not necessarily having a strict structure. I restarted PH3 just before graduation because I found a shift in my schedule again and was able to find the time and not feel rushed.

On day 1, I knew it would be unrealistic to utilize my old max for my squat. Like all things, without practice you’re going to be rusty. I utilized 190 pounds, which was a 15 pound decrease to develop the percentages needed for programming. I really didn’t know where my bench would be, and since I don’t enjoy it and practice it much, I knew it would be low. Deadlifting is something I worked on this spring a little bit so I knew that I could handle 155 pounds, but I also believed I was holding back out of fear, as well as proper equipment (bumper plates v. standard plates).

From day 1 to day 90

Squat: 1RM of 190 to a triple for 195 pounds.

Bench: 1RM of 80 to a double of 85 pounds.

Deadlift: 1RM of 155 to a triple of 185 pounds.

Again, I believe the reason I had such growth in my deadlift was letting go of fear to pull the weight. I also believe that I was just finding routine again and I wasn’t expecting much growth in the other two lifts.

I totaled 518,057 pounds over 90 days. My lightest day being around 2,200 because it was upper body accessory work and I cut out a few exercises because of timing. My heaviest day was just over 14,000 pounds and included a combination of accessories and a focused compound movement. 

Nutritionally, I tracked my macros…mostly. But slowly shifted to focusing on the weights lifted and how my body was feeling. So not everything was tracked #sueme. After tracking for a long time, I do trust myself to eyeball things and that happened a lot.

My measurements have decreased slightly. I’ve seen a quarter inch drop in my waist, a third of an inch in my hips and my bust has maintained. I have a few blouses that are big on me again and my size 2s are fitting perfectly. I feel good in my clothes.

Physically, I’m feeling really pretty good with the exception of the heat from the summer. There are some days I feel I can’t drink enough water. My sleep has been a lot better since getting back into a lifting a routine and I haven’t had to go to the chiropractor as much – the regular stretching has helped tremendously. My energy has been pretty good, which I know is in relation to my sleeping, but also to my stress levels.

I’m excited to work on my own programming and add running back into my routine. There’s a lot of different equipment at my gym like sleds and kettlebells and rope – it’ll be good to change up my routine and add some other movements.

Seeing how heavy I could lift was one way to measure progress, but there are plenty of other ways too. I’m ready to see what else I can do.

I’m keeping a five-day split because I think that works well with my schedule, but I’m shifting my rest days from Tuesday and Friday to Sunday and Thursday. Those days I may go for walks or runs depending on how I feel, but I don’t want to be in the gym those days.

I’ve got a new notebook, new routine and a smile on my face. I think this is a pretty good way to close out July and jump into August.

❤ Cristina

 

 

 

Wellness Refocused Education: Does your menstrual cycle impact your strength?

Ladies – can you pin point specific phases in your menstrual cycle by your symptoms? I know, it’s not exactly dinner talk, but I’m being serious.

Do you have any varying level of these symptoms?

–        Fatigue

–        Cramping

–        Bloating

–        Breast tenderness

–        Fluctuations in body temperature

–        Energy

–        Hunger

–        Moodiness

Have you noticed a difference in your workouts around your period?

If you need a refresher about your menstrual cycle – and trust me I did after I stopped taking hormonal birth control here it is below:

*Menstrual phase – days 1 to 5

*Follicular phase – days 1 to 13

Ovulation phase – day 14

Luteal phase – days 15 to 28

*In some texts, the menstrual phase and follicular phase are grouped together

These are average lengths of time, every woman is different, which means every cycle may be shorter or longer (Reed & Carr, 2015).

The first day of the menstrual phase is when “your period” starts. A healthy period can last between three to five days. During this phase, the hormone progesterone declines. You may have some low energy and depending on how you respond to low energy levels, you may be a little irritable.

During the follicular phase your body is making itself ready for a potential guest #baby. The lining of the uterus grows and becomes thicker, the vaginal environment changes and is more welcoming to sperm. During this phase, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is released by the pituitary gland to cause the egg/ovule to grow and matures inside a follicle. Breasts may become tender because of enlarging milk ducts. After the release of FSH from the pituitary, there is a decrease in FSH, while there is also an increase in estradiol (a form of estrogen) and testosterone (Reed & Carr, 2015). You may have more energy, but a decrease in appetite because of these hormonal shifts.

Ovulation occurs for up to 24 hours. During this phase, the egg is released in response to luteinizing hormone (LH). This 24 hours is crucial for someone wanting to become pregnant. Estradiol and testosterone are at their peak levels.

The luteal phase is the final phase of your menstrual cycle. If the egg has not become fertilized it dies, then the endometrium sheds its lining (your period). Progesterone decreases during this phase, which also can cause a rise in body temperature. During this phase you may also have cramps due to muscle contraction to rid the body of nutrients that had been stored in preparation for a fertilized egg. You may have cravings for carbohydrates during this phase as well as other symptoms like bloating, anxiety, moodiness – these are going to be similar symptoms as experienced during menstrual phase.

Quick recap: luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulation hormone (FSH), estradiol (E2) and progesterone (Prog) and testosterone fluctuate during menstrual cycle. Estrogen and testosterone reach their peak prior to the menstrual cycle or at the time of ovulation (Sung, et al., 2014). There are also other hormones like prolactin (stimulates the production of milk in the mammary gland) that change during the menstrual cycle that we won’t be talking about in this post (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016).

Hormonal changes during different phases of the menstrual cycle can cause changes to energy levels, hungry levels, mood, etc., but can hormonal levels impact our training?

Is it possible to be strategic in your training schedule other than picking days that fit with other priorities?

Much literature discusses that changes in female steroid hormone levels can affect the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and metabolic functions (Pallavi, Souza, & Shivaprakash, 2017).

According to a 2014 study that examined about 20 women in their mid-20s, it’s probable that the rise in testosterone prior to (in the follicular phase), or at the time of ovulation could “account for differences in strength, muscle diameter and muscle cell characters between follicular – compared to luteal phase-based strength training (Sung, et al., 2014).”

This is a small study, which means that while the findings are interesting, there needs to be further investigation to determine their validity and ability to be found in a larger group. One limitation that the study does mention is that researchers compared phases such as the follicular phase to the luteal phase, rather than analyzing hormone concentration in different parts of the phases like the early follicular phase when menses occur versus the later part of follicular phase when both estrogen and testosterone hormones are close to peak.

Another study conducted in 2016, utilized 100 healthy volunteers – again a small study, but larger than the first in 2014. Three trial periods were conducted to test muscle strength and throughout the courses of the study all participants were “oriented to not ingest any kind of energy drink including caffeine and alcohol as well as not to perform any sort of physical activity one day before or on the day of the tests (Pallavi, Souza, & Shivaprakash, 2017).” Similarly, this study found work done was significantly greater during the follicular phase with the same phase having the least amount of fatigue. Participants showed the most fatigue during the menstrual phase followed by the luteal phase. Researchers concluded that changes during a normal menstrual cycle could indeed affect exercise performance and should be considered for training (Pallavi, Souza, & Shivaprakash, 2017).

Let’s talk hormones. The body secretes about 50 different hormones – each one with distinct functions. Hormones are released from glands in the endocrine system.

The major glands that release the hormones we’re discussing in this post are: anterior pituitary gland (FSH, LH), ovaries (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016).

Just to give you a little background on hormones so you can find your way out of the rabbit hole later. Structurally, there are different kinds of hormones: amines, polypeptides, glycoproteins and steroids (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016).

Please note, that steroid hormones are made from cholesterol (fat), which is why it’s important to consume enough dietary fat in your diet. It’s also another reason why there can be fluctuations in menstrual cycle when a female reaches a significantly low body fat percentage.

Looking at the hormones that may impact your training – Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are steroid hormones. While estrogen and progesterone are known to be in women, testosterone is also naturally produced in women, just at much lower levels than in men. Both LH and FSH are glycoprotein polypeptide hormones.

Testosterone is classified as an anabolic steroid hormone, which stimulates protein synthesis and muscle development. This is one reason why men may have an easier time developing muscle and losing weight. Like some research has shown, it may also be one reason why strength increases during the middle of the follicular phase.

Now, while it’s possible that hormonal fluctuations can make us feel like superwoman, other studies have also examined the frequency of training during menstrual phases and how that may impact hypertrophy and strength.

A small study (14 women with regular periods) found there were no major differences in muscle hypertrophy and strength when comparing a structured “menstrual phase-dependent” program to any other training protocol (Sakamaki-Sunaga, Min, Kamemoto, & Okamoto, 2016).

However, like all studies they’re were holes or aspects that could’ve been approached in a better way. Researchers examined arm curl strength over 12 weeks, having participants perform three sets of eight to 15 repetitions during different phases of menstrual cycle. However, the biceps are a small muscle, which means that the load they can handle may not be capable of great change in a 12-week time – other factors like other accessory movements would need to be considered before determining the viability of this result. Examining a deadlift or squat movement may have more telling results.

I do think a combination of factors need to be considered to see if you can push your strength at different times of cycle.

Consistency will always be queen. Regardless of your hormones, if you’re training is consistent then you will see progress over time.

Nutrition and sleep are also important factors to consider when training and seeking to develop strength. If you’re exhausted, you have a higher risk for injury. Sleep also can impact hormone levels, which can have positive or negative impacts on other organ system function. If you’re not fueling appropriately then you’re going to feel fatigued and have a harder time recovering from intense workouts. Time of day may be an impactful factor that you want to consider.

While my cycles are still irregular – even after being off of hormonal birth control for a year, I do notice a difference in my overall energy levels during the follicular phase, which impact my lifts. I also have significant breast tenderness, which can impact how I feel during certain chest-focused exercises like bench press or movements laying facedown. These are the times that I look to different carbohydrate sources and focus on what helps me feel good – usually more fiber, less simple sugar foods (natural and added). I’ve moved training around and also changed up my training times to ensure that I’m at a peak energy time, which means not too late in the day.

I would ask yourself are you able to be this in tune with your body and are you noticing a difference overall that should be considered when creating your programming?

References

Marieb, E. N., & Hoehn, K. (2016). Human Anatomy and Physiology. New York: Pearson Learning Solutions.

Pallavi, L., Souza, U. D., & Shivaprakash, G. (2017). Assessment of Musculoskeletal Strength and Levels of Fatigue during Different Phases of Menstrual Cycle in Young Adults. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, CC11-CC13.

Reed, B. G., & Carr, B. R. (2015). The Normal Menstrual Cycle and the Control of Ovulation. In B. G. Reed, & B. R. Carr, Endotext. South Dartmouth: MDText.

Reis, E., Frick, U., & Schmidtbleicher, D. (1995). Frequency variations of strength training sessions triggered by the phases of the menstrual cycle. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 545-550.

Sakamaki-Sunaga, M., Min, S., Kamemoto, K., & Okamoto, T. (2016). Effects of Menstrual Phase-Dependent Resistance Training Frequency on Muscular Hypertrophy and Strength. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 1727-1734.

Sung, E., Han, A., Hinrichs, T., Vorgerd, M., Manchado, C., & Platen, P. (2014). Effects of follicular versus luteal phase-based strength training in young women. Springerplus.

Day 204, Quote 20: Your voice was the soundtrack of my summer

This was day 49 of the 100 days of writing. This is from days ago. I’ve answered prompts as it made sense, but I haven’t written for all of the days. I look at them each day and think about how the prompt makes me feel and if I believe it’s worth writing about.

I don’t just write to write. I want to feel compelled to say something.

This title? First thing that popped into my head. Lyrics from Boys Like Girls, which I think says more about my teenage years than I could ever explain.

So, playlists.

When I first read this prompt and I saw how running was broken up, I started thinking about my lists. The things I like to do and the things I have to do. That’s really how I divide up my time. Need and want.

Image may contain: phone

My Playlists:

1.Writing for me: blogging, journaling

1b.Writing for business: coaching, blogging, work

2.Working out for me: lifting, some running, walking

2b.Working out for JP: running, walking

3.Listening to podcasts for me: TEDTalks, Pod Save America, This American Life

3b.Listening to podcasts with JP: Brunch, Zero Blog Thirty

4.Reading for me: the classics i.e. the books everyone in high school hated, research, cookbooks

4b.Reading for business: research

5. Music today

5b. Music when I flashback

The first playlist I thought about was my writing. Sometimes it is hard for me to tell the difference between writing for myself and writing for others – it does overlap and for the most part I don’t mind. However, I have been trying to figure out how to balance my journaling – which is private, with blogging – which isn’t. I think it’s something that I’m going to have  to work on for a while.

My biggest fear is that something I enjoy and invest myself into will become a chore and therefore less enjoyable.

There have been times that writing has been less fun, but there were specific events that made it that way and for the most part, I’ve moved passed the opportunity for similar events to occur.

I’ve been working to get my business writing into a schedule. If I want to share an educational post, it’s going to be on a Wednesday – #wellnessWednesday. I like themes like that and so it made sense. Towards the end of the week or really I guess the weekend and weekstart days I do my own update. Other posts are just sporadically posted and that’s also ok. I think for the most part I’m in a schedule.

I don’t feel I have to do writing every week, but if I write, this is kind of the structure I give myself – I can plan and layout my time so I don’t feel like every time I sit down to write it’s about my blog.

My perspective of working out kind of surprised me because I never thought about why I do different exercises or programming or whatever you want to call it in this way before.

I lift because I like the metrics associated with it. I do like numbers, and seeing my strength grow and change is very cool. Tiny, but mighty thought process. You can work the same muscle differently with more reps, less weight; more weight, less reps. Being able to see how the body moves and functions when I see my reflection in the mirror still leaves me in awe that I’m capable.

I run because symbolically it’s like leaving everything behind. Whether I’m inside or on the treadmill, I imagine the world fading away and in some cases, it’s very much like Colors of the Wind scenery flying by me. However, I know running is also one of only exercise-like activities that JP enjoys. So sometimes, running isn’t for me, sometimes it for us to spend together, which is a very different kind of enjoyment and is very different purpose.

I’m not sure if I’m upset by the shift in purpose, I don’t think I am, it’s just an observation that running has evolved into two separate ideas.

Listening to podcasts is really about educational growth, but also seeing from points-of-view. When I’m listening for myself, I’m seeking out stories of strength and in many cases it leads down a rabbit hole to video so I can see body language. I’m really terrible with voices. I want to see someone’s movements and be moved by them. This is a reason I talk with clients through video chat – we can learn from body language more than we can from words.

The variance in podcast from my tastes to JP’s really gives me an idea of what kind of humor he finds funny to what topics mean something to him. What grabs my attention isn’t most definitely not the same as what grabs his. My purpose is for learning and his is for entertainment. It just shows how the same medium can fit into different molds.

Reading is a weird one.

My interests have changed greatly as I’ve gotten older, but there are some titles that still pull me back like The Great Gatsby and Fahrenheit 451.

I never thought I would enjoy reading research, but there are times that I do need to tell myself to put articles down and take a break because I’m getting too invested and the time is escaping me. Reading blends with school and there was the time during my masters I didn’t read for fun and then again during my associates. Now with more time on my hands, I’m seeking to learn balance between reading for a half hour with myself outside versus reading an article on my computer for three hours dissecting it’s contents.

Thinking about what I read and why, makes me want to try to be more observant about why I’m reading in the moment. It’s kind of like my writing. I don’t want it to become a chore even though I know it’s part of both my global health job and coaching. I love learning, but I also know that sometimes you need a break and do things for fun and just fun – don’t dabbling in work fun.

The music that I listen to really is a mosh posh of high school and college Cristina meets the early 1990s with a little hair metal thrown into the mix. I do like some music that has been made today, but not much. I’m just saying that I really prefer Hootie and the Blowfish before Hootie went solo.

Anyway, there’s music that I listen to on the radio because it’s there and there’s my own playlists on Spotify that are good for when I’m getting work done, cleaning or doing the dishes or laundry and sometimes, but rarely – working out. The difference between music I leisurely listen to and music when I flashback is really the time period.

When I’m thinking about past events from childhood, whether willingly or not, the music I hear in my head – not willingly playing is specific to that time period. I’m sure many of us joke that if only we could memorize facts like we do songs then we’d never have an issue with studying. Well, that’s how I feel when I hear some of these songs in my head. The lyrics are clear as day and it’s as though I just heard the song. Sometimes it’s relaxing and other times it’s annoying to the point that I need to load up the song and have a listen to be able to move on with my day.

It’s completely ok if I’m the only one hears songs in my head, but I’m sure I’m not alone. I never thought about it too much, and like my other lists it doesn’t bother me, it’s just a weird observation.

There were definitely others who wrote specific lists and called it a day, and there I was thinking well there’s more to playlists than just making categories.

I guess what it comes down to is that I always look for the why and then I think about the actions going forward. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop looking for the why or what I expect when I find it, but I do think it makes things a little bit more interesting.

❤ Cristina

 

 

Recipe: Eggless Banana Brownies

Sometimes when I want to bake, I don’t want to have to plan a recipe. I don’t want to go out and compile all of the ingredients. Sometimes I want to be able to look around the kitchen and see if there’s anything that can be made from what I already have.

Mushy bananas are good for a few things: banana bread, banana muffins, oats and pancakes. But, they can also be a good base for other baked goods like brownies – you just need to remember what it is that you’re making.

What I love about brownies is how fudgey they are. I don’t like cakey brownies. I like fudgey, dense brownies. When I make brownies from scratch I add chocolate melted from a double boiler and cocoa powder. Thinking about an alternative brownie, I wanted to have some things similar like the fudgey texture and the obvious – chocolatey taste. I intentionally left out a rising agent because I really didn’t want to have to take time to figure out the right ratio so that it would rise instead of become hard or stay flat.

So if you’re wanting something kind of fudgey, but not fluffy, this may something for you to try. This was a solid first go, but I’m definitely interested to see what happens as this recipe evolves.

What You’ll Need

  • 3 small bananas (~220g)
  • 1.5 scoops of chocolate whey casein protein powder (~50g)
  • 1 tablespoon of almond milk (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of Hershey’s cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup of chocolate chips
  • cooking spray

Directions

1.Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel and mash bananas in a medium sized mixing bowl. Three small bananas should do, if you have two medium bananas that’s also fine. If they’re a bit larger you may need to add slightly more cocoa powder later.

3. Add protein powder to mashed banana mixture. I used PEScience Chocolate Cupcake because it’s what we had in the house, it’s also my chocolate protein of choice because it’s very chocolate-y.


4.If you find that the mixing the protein into the mashed bananas is difficult, add 1 tablespoon of milk or milk alternative. I used almond milk and it was plenty.

5.Once you’ve mixed the protein powder and banana, add cocoa. I use Hershey’s, but you can probably use any baking cocoa powder of choice.

6.(optional) Mix in chocolate chips. I used Ghiradelli 60% cacao. They’re a bit larger chips that I usually use in baking unless melting, but these were a good choice. Again, like the cocoa, you can use any chocolate chip you want to.


7. I won’t lie, this is where having a smaller baking pan would’ve done me some good. I have small loaf pans, but I didn’t want a thick loaf because of what that could do to baking time.

Spraying a standard brownie pan, I spread the batter as evenly as possible. If you use a smaller pan, the baking time will be slightly longer so it cooks thoroughly. Bake for 20 minutes. I set a timer for 15 minutes and after checking on them kept them in for another 5 minutes.

8.Using a spatula, remove the from baking pan and let cool on a rack.
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9.After cooling, cut into pieces. I cut the brownie sheet into 9 mostly equally pieces.

Tasting and texture notes: Definitely fudgey, even though they weren’t thick pieces. The overall texture is a little chewy, which I don’t mind. Minimal banana flavor since there’s A LOT of cocoa.

Nutrition: ~80 calories per square. 3F/10C/5P – ~2g of fiber

I think this is a good base for an alternative brownie recipe. I didn’t want to play with rising agents and maybe alternative flours. I have almond flour that I’ve been trying to figure out what else I want to do with it other than cookies – which is my favorite thing to do with it.

 

Recipe: Baked Pesto White Fish

There’s a few things going on in the kitchen lately, or not going on in the kitchen.

  1. It’s been so hot that’s it’s been more reasonable to grill outside a few meals at a time.
  2. We’ve been trying to “eat down” the freezer. We do buy extra things when they’re on sale since we have the space, and now the time has come to work on consuming those extra things to make space for more important things…like ice cream because it’s summer.
  3. I’ve been trying to diversify my proteins. We still eat a lot of chicken, but we’re trying to incorporate more beef as well as fish. I’m also using some dairy as a protein source, which we’ll get to later.

When I got home from work and started thinking about what to do for lunch, my first thought was I needed something quick or at least easy. My second thought was I didn’t want chicken.

I had put fish in the fridge to thaw the other day and decided this might be a good chance to cook it up. It could also be the fact that we’re going to the Cape this week and all I want is a lobster roll, but that’s beside the point. The point is there are some things I haven’t made in a while and this was an opportune time to make one of them.

I joke a lot that my recipes are often throwing ingredients in a bowl and hoping for the best. This is one of those things because it’s really only two ingredients.

Pesto Cod for Two

What You’ll Need

  • Jar pesto – I’ve used Barilla and Classico – both taste good and are the same nutritionally
  • White fish of choice: I used cod fillet, but you can also use haddock
  • Cooking spray
  • Baking sheet
  • Oven

Directions

1.Preheat your oven to 375.

2. Generously spray cooking spray on a baking sheet. I say generously spray because I’ve had issues with fish sticking to my baking sheets, however, they’re also almost 10 years old.

3. Lay fish as flat as possible on baking sheet. Again you can use fresh or thawed fish. I used frozen cod that had been thawed out.

4. Cover fish with a tablespoon of pesto – trust me this is enough.


5. Bake for about 15 to minutes. The fish will be completely white when it’s fully cooked.

6. I plated my fish with brown rice, broccoli and fresh tomatoes (still cold).

Day 194, Quote 19: Interview Question “What motivates you?”

I have so many things that I want to do to give back to the world around me. When I have an idea I flush it out and then run with it. There’s a part of me that’s fearful that if I don’t try then I will never know my own greatness.

I said this to a client the other night and it’s something I need to remind myself of now.

Her and I have been discussing new job opportunities and taking steps to apply. During this talk she said she wasn’t sure if she should apply to one we had most recently talked about – it really is the perfect fit for her – because she didn’t have a degree. I looked at her and said “they didn’t say you would need one”.

The trick with job postings is that they list everything they would want in a candidate if they could build one. It’s the perfect world scenario, but it’s not reality. No where in this posting did it say she needed that. It’s possible that they would have other candidates apply that have one, but she’s in the process of obtaining her degree and she has plenty of transferable skills.

I told her, you need to let them tell you no. By not trying you are telling yourself no for them.

She’s scared of something new and there is validity in that fear. New is scary because you can’t predict any outcomes.

I’ve been writing and editing and deleting the last section of my workbook. My intention was for it to be done in May or early June at the latest. I’ve been questioning the words and second guessing if they’re coming out right. Am I saying what I want to and how will it be understood are pretty typical questions I’ve been asking myself.

When I think about why I’m writing this to begin with and what’s preventing it’s completion – they are opposite and competing ideas.

I want to help others who may need guidance, but don’t want someone to hold their hand – I can understand that. I want people to feel capable and confident with most of their decisions, even though I know myself isn’t always feeling that way. More often than not is the goal, not perfection.

So what’s preventing me? It’s my own issue with imposture syndrome and the possible negativity.

I told JP the other day that one day, when I’m more removed it won’t be a big deal, but I still struggle with the idea that I don’t believe I’m all that special to really warrant that kind of attention.

I was listening to a podcast the other day and the host was talking about what feeds you, what motivates you. She said that she’s never liked the idea of being fueled on haters because of the power that she believe it gives them. It allows them credit for your work.

I think I teeter back and forth.

I am motivated by the greatness I continue to see in others. I am energized when they light up and it makes me want to continue to work with others and coach them on their paths. I am motivated by the accomplishments that I achieve that I didn’t think I could do because they are challenges I’ve never willingly put myself through – like going back to school.

I do believe that there have been aspects of my journey that I’ve done in spite of others that I’ve benefited from, but by thanking those who doubt my abilities, I am giving them power. I guess the way I think of it is how some of us have weakness around certain foods. What about that food makes us crave it, desire it, not have enough of it? Why do we allow food to control us? There’s something bigger going on. So why fuel off of negative energy?

I don’t want to put bad energy into my environment. There’s a lot of other shit happening, there’s no reason to not take each day in stride and look for the goodness. Each day can’t be great, but there can be good in each day.

I’d like to think that I have this outlook regardless of what’s going on around me or to me. This is the outlook I want to always have.

So, like I told my client – I’m not going to submit to a defeat that may not even exist. I’m going to give my all and put myself out into the world with the hope that those who are seeking a similar heart will feel grounded and connected and that those who are seeking to be spiteful will eventually get bored and keep walking.

I am giving myself permission to be frustrated that hate can make us fearful to be bold and do great things, but I am also telling myself that I have more greatness in me that out shines the power I had been giving the doubtful voices in my head, the voices I had previously heard.

❤ Cristina

Wellness Refocused Education: Does stretching make an impact?

I’m sure many of you have been told that stretching and warming up as well as cooling down are an important part of your workout. Have any of you ever really thought about why or if there are better ways to warm up and stretch?

Would you laugh if you learned that you may want to stretch on a daily basis even if you’re not exercising?

There are a lot of activities that we do that can put stress on our bodies, many we don’t typically think of such as sitting or standing for long periods of time or walking. Crossing your legs or sitting on your wallet can actually be a literal pain in the ass…and lower back.

Just like there are different styles of exercise to achieve different health goals (i.e. strength training, endurance training, etc), there are also a variety of stretches with unique purposes, but first what are we stretching.

Our skeleton is compromised of  206 bones, which makes up about 20% of out mass (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016). Our skeletons are “divided” into two sections: axial and appendicular portions. The axial includes the skull, vertebral column and the thoracic cage. This section of the body has 80 bones. The other 126 bones are found in appendicular portion, which includes the pectoral girdle and the upper limb, the pelvic girdle and the lower limb. This section of the body is what helps us with mobility (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016).

Our bodies have different kinds of muscle tissue, but for this post, we’re talking about skeletal muscle also known as voluntary muscle (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016). Skeletal muscle attaches to bones and during contractions they pull on the bones or skin and create movement. The amount of work a muscle can do is based on stimuli acted on the muscle and the muscle reacts and adapts. Overload helps the muscle increase strength and endurance.

There are three functional classifications for joints:

  1. synarthroses – immovable joints (ex. skull bone – cranial and facial bones)
  2. amphiarthroses – slightly moveable joints (ex. pubic symphysis – pubic bones)
  3. diarthroses – freely moveable joints (ex. shoulder – scapula and humerus)

Within these classifications are structural classifications: fibrous, cartilaginous and synovial. Synovial are considered diarthroses.

The way we move is determined by our range of motion or ROM at our synovial joints (Page, 2012). A synovial joint is where articulating bones are separated by a membrane of fluid. These joints are reinforced with ligaments. There are sixkinds of synovial joints in the human body:

  1. Hinge
  2. Pivot
  3. Plane
  4. Saddle
  5. Ball-and-Socket
  6. Condyalar

“Joints are the weakest part of the skeleton”, but there are ways to stablize them (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016). The shape of the bone plays a small role in stablization whereas ligaments and muscle tone  are the most important for stablizing the joint. Muscle tone in this sense is defined as “low levels of contractile activity in relaxed muscles that keep the muscles healthy and ready to react to stimulation (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016).”

It’s clear that stronger muscles assist our joints, but does stretching prevent injury or even soreness post-workout? Well, there’s research on both sides, but first what kinds of stretches are there to utilize?

There are three kindsof stretches: static, dynamic and pre-contraction.

A static stretch involves holding a muscle in specific position to allow and create tension. This style stretch is repeated and can be done on your own or with a partner.

A dynamic stretch is an active stretch will moves a limb through its full ROM. This style of stretch can also be repeated and done on your own or with a partner.

A pre-contraction stretch involves a contraction of the muscle being stretched such and can be performed with resistance provided by a band, strap or partner.

Both static stretching and dynamic stretching commonly suggested in training, however, studies show that dynamic stretching may have more benefits than static stretches.

A 2009 study examined the effects of dynamic and static stretching on vertical jump and activity of the muscle tissue. Researchers found a signification increase in activity in the muscle tissue after participants engaged in dynamic stretching in comparison to static stretching (Hough, P.A., 2009). “In this investigation electromyographic activity was significantly greater after dynamic stretching compared with static stretching indicating an increase in muscle activation post dynamic stretching.” Dynamic stretching engages the muscle in a movement, versus holding it like static.

This ties back to the amount of work a muscle is capable of is determined by the amount of stimuli placed upon it, repeatedly. It’s hard to say if while the dynamic stretching had more of an impact than static stretching did if it was a combination of positive factors that contributed to the improved jump.

Researchers also found that there was an increase in neuromuscular mechanisms, meaning the contact between the brain and muscle fibers were able to increase communication. Dynamic stretching may better assist in preventing injury because of the potential growth of muscle fibers and the impacts on strength.

A pre-contraction stretch, may be suggested to assist ROM and flexibility. Similarly to dynamic stretching, muscle activation in this kind of stretch may remain the same or increase after the stretch is executed (Page, P., 2012).

The kind of stretch can determine the amount of benefit and overall stretching may play a role in decreasing injury in certain sport disciplines. However, post-workout muscle soreness or “delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can occur after single bouts of high-intensity running and/or unfamiliar activity (Herbert et al., 2011).” This is the body’s reaction to a new activity, which can include doing the same exercise with a different load than previously used such as increasing weight or changing the repetition range or even variations of form. The way the stretching is incorporated into programming can play a role in the amount of benefit.

Literature from a review in 2017 found that acute stretching versus long-term chronic stretching could have different affects on performance, DOMS and chronic injury in endurance runners (Baxter et al., 2017). The review found that much of literature argued that acute stretching during a warm-up may have actually decreased efficiency. Other research examined in the review found that joint stability was a result of muscle strength in general, not acute stretching.

Other research examined in the review argued that engaging in chronic stretching wouldn’t hinder immediate performance and could increase flexibility (Baxter et al., 2017). However, even chronic stretching research came back to discussing the important of muscle strength and stiffness in relation to joint stability.

The same review found that many studies were investigating the benefits of static stretching, not comparing benefits of variations of stretching, which would give different results or incomplete results.

Other research that I found interesting has looked at the exercise interventions – not necessarily just stretching, but incorporating exercises that contribute to prevent. A review on the effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries sought to determine if exercises such as strength training, stretching, proprioception or a combination of these could reduce acute or overuse injury. They examined 25 trials that included 26,610 participant with 3,464 injuries and determined that strength training in general “reduced injuries to less than a third and overuse injuries could be almost halved (Lauresen et al., 2013).”

This I found this interesting because the components of dynamic stretching are similar to components of strength training such as shoulder circles and arm circles, which can be done with or without weight, squats, which can also be done with or without weight. There are some dynamic stretches that are just stretches such as leg swings or neck flexion/extension.

This past spring, when I got back into a structure lifting routine I had less low-back pain, less muscle spasms and tightness and less likeliness of my SI dislocating, which meant less trips to the chiropractor. She explained that exercises like the back squat, even with light weight helped elongate the muscle and stretch it out. I had been seated more often than I ever had been while in school and that was causing an issue for muscle and joints because it meant that it wasn’t being activated as much.

I used a dynamic warm up without my workout and I incorporate components into my lifting, even though I’m doing a prewritten program. My favorite dynamic warm up is of course for legs:

  1. Hip abduction with a medium resistance band (both sides): 10 reps
  2. Hip abduction with a medium resistance band (both sides): 20 reps
  3. Forward hip height knee lifts with a medium resistance bands (both sides): 15 reps
  4. Standing kickbacks with a medium resistance band (both sides): 10 reps
  5. Side hip height knee lifts with a medium resistance bands (both sides) 15 reps
  6. Banded forward hip hinge: 2 sets of 10 reps
  7. Banded barbell squats with just the bar: 10 reps

I do this before I start my workout, but I’ve also incorporated some of these into my routine. I always warm up large lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench press, over head press – mostly, anything with a barbell. I’ve utilized banded clam shells – and those are no joke.

There’s importance in developing strength and flexibility in both joints and muscles, but I think the research shows that it can come from a number of source. It’s not just about one kind of stretch or just resistance training. Together these can lead to less pain and a decreased chance of daily injury.  Regularly activity can also increase circulation by assisting blood to flow into your muscles.

I’m pro-stretching, but I think it needs to be dynamic and it should compliment what you’re doing that day in the gym. My upper body/back day warm up is very different than my lower body warm up.

Do you stretch or do you focus on multiple movements in your programming to assist in muscle and joint development?

❤ Cristina

References:

Claire Baxter, Lars R. Mc Naughton, Andy Sparks, Lynda Norton & David Bentley (2017) Impact of stretching on the performance and injury risk of long-distance runners, Research in Sports Medicine, 25:1, 78-90, DOI: 10.1080/15438627.2016.1258640

Herbert, R., de Noronha, M., & Kamper, S. (2011). Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. The Cochrane Database of Systemtic Reviews, 1-50.

Lauresen, J. B., Bertelsen, D. M., & Andersen, L. B. (2013). The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 871-877.

Marieb, E. N., & Hoehn, K. (2016). The Skeleton. In E. N. Marieb, & K. Hoehn, Human Anatomy and Physiology (pp. 199-250). New York: Pearson Learning Solutions.

Marieb, E. N., & Hoehn, K. (2016). Muscles and Muscle Tissues. In E. N. Marieb, & K. Hoehn, Human Anatomy and Physiology (pp. 278-320). New York: Pearson Learning Solutions.

Page, P. (2012). Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 109-119.

Hough, P. A. (2009). Effects of Dynamic and Static Stretching on Vertical Jump Performance and Electromyographic Activity. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 507-512.

Perrier, E. T. (2011). The Acute Effects of a Warm-Up Including Static or Dynamic Stretching on Countermovement Jump Height, Reaction Time, and Flexibility. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 1925-19231.

Day 187, Quote 18: “Reach Out Eagerly”

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. -Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ve rewritten this three times. I don’t typically go through and edit heavily. I’ll look for spelling or grammar. Maybe clarify, but I don’t typically reread to rewrite. But I just wasn’t saying what I wanted to in the way I wanted to. My headspace was weird this morning and I think that’s why I’ve been rewriting.

There’s a lot in my head that I want to get out, but even to me I don’t know how to formulate the words.

I guess I’ll start with the obvious. I finished the second week of work and I’m about to start week three. This is still a brand new adventure and I’m curious to know when the newness will fade, but I’m hopeful that it won’t fade greatly. I’ll get into a groove and the anxiety and fear of screwing up will disappear, but the excitement of new project aspects will keep it fresh.

I always say that I’m “bright-eyed and bushy tailed” and I’m eager. I’m eager to learn and to get involved. I’ve been told that’s not always a good thing.

Well, for me, it’s more than just having money to live or in some cases survive.

I want to be passionate. I want to light the world up.

I want to be fired up about what I’m doing. It’s not that I get sad when it’s not a fantastic day – trust me I know that’s not possible every day. However, every day has the possibility of being good.

If the flame is dying or the attitude towards the position and work is or has faded and it feels like you’re dragging ass to your “job” then I do think you need to make a change. A change won’t happen in a few days, but if you figure out a plan and create a realistic timeline, you can work towards change. I digress.

This job isn’t just a job. It’s an opportunity to make the world brighter, to fill the gap and create possibility. It’s the same way I view coaching. I never thought I would want to be a coach, but with every person and every check in, I find myself full as they realize their own greatness.

People need to be given opportunity and choices to take them.

At work there was less anxiety, more reading, more writing and more understanding about how I fit into the puzzle. And I know that as I make connections and take the lead in meetings I will be more active and feel more engaged. I will feel capable of hitting the ground running every Monday.

There are aspects I’m comfortable with already and others I’m getting used to.

I haven’t had to lead meetings or monitor task delegation in a while, but I’m excited to get back to it. It’s slightly comparative to coaching because I do check in with clients in between calls about how their weeks are going and how they are feeling about progress. While I may not necessarily delegate all the tasks they are working on throughout the week, my clients and I come up with their to-do lists to work towards whatever their goals are – this is similar.

I love seeing tasks be accomplished and the puzzle come together. We can see the potential as it comes together.

I love reading research articles and digging, I’m currently researching medical drones – that’s something I never thought I would be reading about. Another part of my role will be assisting in editing abstracts this month that are being submitted for the international conference hosted this winter.

This really is a good balance of dancing on the comfort zone line.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about having a new schedule, but I’ve been able to adapt to it.

I welcome change, but I also know that there’s an adjustment period. I tell my clients this and this is something that I have to remind myself sometimes – we aren’t super human even if we do extraordinary things sometimes.

So, sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s like a slap in the face.

This was somewhere in between.

~~~

This is the part of the post where I’ve written and deleted and rewritten a few sentences over and over again.

I’ve been to the gym and kept up with my workout schedule and I’m glad that I’ve pushed myself to focus on it because it’s helped me get through other things this week.

I’ve been dealing with anxiety stemming from interpersonal relationship dynamics with friends. It’s been causing flashbacks, which have been just as vivid as ever.

In some cases, I’m going through the motions in the memory and in others I’m watching the scene. There’s no obvious rhyme or reason to the memories I’m seeing.

It’s recess. It’s gym class. It’s the grocery store. It’s holding a roll of film and then holding the photos.

It’s clips. It’s full color. It’s slow motion, it’s hyper speed.

But I can taste them. I can smell them. I can feel them.

I never used to get flashbacks like this when I was stressed. Only the past few years. I think we all go through periods where we think back on memories, but it’s literally as though a little person is digging into a filing cabinet and exclaiming “aha! this one.”

I’m planning on journaling this weekend and seeing if I can make any connections of the memories to the relationship dynamics. After breakfast this morning when JP and I were talking about our plans for the day and I told him I wanted to get some writing done and about the flashbacks this week, I started crying hysterically. Physically, it came out of no where. Mentally, I knew it was bound to happen some time.

It’s weird because my headspace overall this week has been pretty damn good. I never second guessing the typical things that take a hit – eating, working out and sleep. I felt capable of getting everything I had to do done, and getting things I wanted to do done as well. It’s also possible that I’ve finally had time to settle down from running around this week and it just caught up to me. It’s possible that just “brain dumping” here and into my journal will give me the clarity that I need to lessen the flashbacks and regulate my anxiety. If I feel I need more, then I’ll do more.

For today, I planned some writing and a possible nap before going out with a former client for dinner. Since nothing NEEDS to be done today, I’m giving myself the chance to go through motions as they feel good.

❤ Cristina

Wellness Refocused Education: Alcohol

I can’t have wine. I can’t have beer. I can’t go out.

I’ve heard this from a few clients. I’ve read it and heard it from a few people online. When I started, it’s something that I said myself.

It’s possible to still have a beer or a glass of wine and lose weight and create a healthy lifestyle. I kept alcohol in my plan during my last competition prep and saw the lowest body fat percentage I have ever had. This isn’t something many people practice, but in my last prep, it’s something I wanted to keep in for when I wanted a drink with dinner or date night. I wanted the ability to have a drink if I felt comfortable with having one work in my day.

Alcohol consumption and weight loss comes down to a few things.

  1. Maintaining a caloric deficit consistently over time.
  2. Determining how you feel about the choice of having a drink.

Weight loss/fat loss occur over time. While weight can fluctuate greatly day-to-day, true fat loss occurs over a period of time longer than a few days. You need to be in a caloric deficit over that period and that can be created through your nutrition protocol and workout programming.

The mental aspect of dieting is something that I talk about heavily with my clients because I don’t believe in eating things you don’t like (you won’t adhere to your plan if you don’t like it) and you also need to be comfortable or at least ok with the ramifications (if any) of your choices.

Three questions I get often are:

  • Why doesn’t alcohol have a nutrition label?
  • How do I track alcohol?
  • Should I leave space in my diet for alcohol? i.e. should there be an allotted number of calories or macros for alcohol to replace food?

Before we answer these questions, let understand alcohol a little bit better.

When we talk about alcohol as a consumable like beer, we’re meaning ethanol. Ethanol is a specific type of alcohol that you find in beer, wine and distilled spirits. Alcohol and ethanol are used interchangeably.

Alcohol is technically a macronutrient.

Chemically they are structurally similar to carbohydrates. Chemically, carbohydrates are C6H12O6 whereas ethanol alcohol is C2H5OH. Alcohol is similar to carbohydrates because they’re created from fermented carbohydrates in a process called ethanol fermentation or alcoholic fermentation.

Image result for alcoholic fermentation formula

Alcohol has 7 calories associated per gram. This makes them more calorically dense than carbohydrates and protein, but less calorically dense than fat (Thompson & Manore, 2015). Ethanol is a specific type of alcohol that you find in beer, wine and distilled spirits.

Alcohol provides no nutritional value, but it has energy.

So, if it’s a macronutrient why isn’t it on a nutrition label?

While the FDA and USDA are regulatory entities for food and supplements, they don’t regulate alcohol. That’s the short answer. Alcohol is regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). This organization doesn’t require that companies provide nutritional information on their products. However, in 2004 a ruling called the Federal Alcohol Administration Act allowed TTB to implement labeling regulations as long as the information was accurate and not misleading to consumers. The FAA Act also had restrictions about marketing and statements in relation to benefits of alcohol. Since the FAA Action, more alcohol companies have tried to appease health conscious consumers by adding nutrition labels, however, if you look closely, you’ll see in many cases the calories don’t match the nutritional values provided on the label.

The reason – alcohol isn’t a nutrient that is usually provided on a label, and since much of the carbohydrates are converted into alcohol only those not converted are accounted for on the label.

Below is a label of Angry Orchard Hard Cider. We all know that apples are carbohydrates and we know carbohydrates is a fancy name for sugar. You’ll see that calories, carbohydrates and sugars are accounted for on the label, but if you multiply 31g of carbohydrates by 4 calories per gram, you get 124 calories, not 210. That’s not to say that there are truly 84 calories or 12g of alcohol in this bottle, but you get the idea – the energy is accounted for, but not the nutrient.

This was in the fridge at JP’s parents house. Notice how it lists carbohydrates as 5g (which is 20 calories) and at the top it says calories from alcohol 120 (roughly 17g). I’m not sure if this is something that we will be seeing more of, but I do think it allows people to make more healthful decisions – nutritionally and psychologically.

How do you track it if you’re counting macros?

I recommended threeways to accommodate alcohol into their plan.

1. Since it’s chemically similar to carbohydrates, you can over-accommodate by taking the total calories of the drink and dividing by 4 calories (1g of carbohydrates) to determine how many grams of carbohydrates you would use to account for your drink.

2. Calorically, since they’re close to fats at 7 calories per gram, you can divide by 9 calories (1g of fats) and determine how many grams of fats you want to use to account for your drink.

Both of these ways to accommodate alcohol aren’t going to be perfect – there’s no perfect way to account for it. Even if you’re counting calories, many people aren’t measuring all of the ingredients in their drinks and are estimating their consumption – especially if they’re ordering out.

3. The most common way I recommend they accommodate alcohol into their plan is to calculate it similarly to above and accepting and allowing themselves to eat in a surplus that day. I hardly ever recommend that clients substitute alcohol for food. Not only is alcohol not nutritious but decreasing food will also amplify the impacts that alcohol can have on a body such as stimulant effects.

Early in my journey, I made the mistake of attempting to leave space in my day for a drink to go out and it hits you like a ton of bricks if you’re not careful. Now, if I have a drink I’ve actively made the decision to have it and go over my calories for the day. This doesn’t mean that I load up and go over excessively. In many cases I’m putting my body into maintenance range, not necessarily a surplus.

We’ve talked about how the body breaks down certain nutrients from complex to simple forms and we’ve talk about how some things are broken down at different rates. As a liquid, alcohol is readily absorbed from the both the stomach and the small intestine – it’s not digested before reaching these two organs (Thompson & Manore, 2015). Foods containing protein, fat and fiber help slow down absorption rates of alcohol and therefore slowly the effects of it.

After alcohol enters the bloodstream, it moves to the liver where it’s broken down. The liver produces two enzymes that break down alcohol – alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) (Thompson & Manore, 2015). These enzymes break down alcohol so that it’s energy can be readily available to the body.  After the energy has been made ready, the body only has two options – use it for energy if caloric needs haven’t been met or convert it to fatty acids and store it for later.

While age, gender and weight can impact how alcohol impacts a person, the rate at which alcohol breaks down once it reaches the liver can’t be altered regardless of the myths out there.

Why do so many people cut it out of their diets if you can still lose weight and fat when consuming alcohol?

Again, there’s no nutritional value and it’s easy over consume energy through alcohol consumption. It’s not just from alcohol in beverages that the calories come from, many who enjoy mixed drinks are adding calories through sugary mixers and additions likes cherries and whipped cream. Other negative behaviors like over-eating as well as heavy drinking are also associated with alcohol consumption.

It’s possible that there are some benefits to light or moderate alcohol consumption. Resveratrol is a phytochemical found in red wines, grapes and other plants that can play a role in limiting cellular damage and help lower risk of certain chronic diseases (Thompson & Manore, 2015). However, the amount of resveratrol in wines may be too little to make a meaningful impact and therefore a purified supplement of resveratrol would be recommended. Much research has found links between moderate alcohol consumption and lower chronic disease, but not causation. “Clinical studies are limited by their observational nature as well as for the difficulties to abstract the benefits of wine from other confounders” meaning that it can be hard to determine if the benefits were from the wine or other healthy positive behaviors (Artero, Artero, Tarin & Cano, 2015). There are clear risks to drinking too much alcohol such as higher risk of chronic disease like impaired bone health, pancreatic injury and diabetes, abdominal obesity, cancer.

There is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for alcohol, however, moderation per gender is encouraged. Moderation for women is one drink per day and no more than two drink per day for men.

Similarly to deciding if you should have a dessert after dinner or an extra serving of what would be considered a treat, you should feel confident in the decision to participate. Having a glass of wine or a bottle of beer shouldn’t make you feel derailed or feel like you’re ruining progress. It should be accounted for in whatever way you believe will be helpful. If it’s moderating the rest of the day and acknowledging that you will be out of a deficit that day – then so be it. If it’s not counting it, but going about your day tracking other items – then so be it. Just don’t allow yourself to become out of control.

As for me, I enjoy a beer with dinner. I like a cocktail when it’s hot. Sometimes I put liquor in my coffee when we make brunch.

Cheers!

❤ Cristina

References

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. (2018, July 2). Beverage Alcohol. Retrieved from Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau: https://www.ttb.gov/alcohol/bev-alc.shtml

Artero, A., Artero, A., Tarin, J. J., & Cano, A. (2015). The impact of moderate wine consumption on health. Maturitas, 3-13.

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