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.

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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.

Department of the Treasury: Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. (2004, April 7). Caloric and Carbohydrate Representations in the Labeling and Advertising of Wine, Distilled Spirits and Malt Beverages. Retrieved from Department of the Treasury: Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau: https://www.ttb.gov/rulings/2004-1.pdf

ScienceDirect. (2018, July 2). Ethanol fermentation. Retrieved from ScienceDirect: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/ethanol-fermentation

Thompson, J., & Manore, M. (2015). Nutrition: An Applied Approach. Boston: Pearson.

Wellness Refocused Education: Snacking intentionally

When I started competing I thought I had to eat every few hours. This was something that I had read about, but more importantly (at the time) it was something that I saw over and over again in practice online.

For me, every few hours meant every three hours. I was on a cycle of eating about seven or eight meals or snacks, which were small in volume. I didn’t have macronutrient goals per meal (I still don’t). I didn’t have calorie goals per meal (I still don’t).

Now, there’s nothing wrong with eating in this structure. I do think small meals can help you get through the day, but naturally, this method also has you in a cycle of wondering what time it is and when the next meal is coming. This kind of focus on meal timing has the potential to be harmful mentally. This concept can be considered grazing, since meals are consumed steadily throughout the day instead of in two or three large meals.

Transitioning away from this approach to eating when I was hungry was a slight struggle at first. However, after a few months, I relearned my body and now I have an idea of meal timing that works for me as well as how full certain combinations of foods make me so that I can plan when I’m on the go.

One positive thing from this eating structure is that I started to eliminate labels from food like breakfast, lunch and dinner.

By removing labels and eating what I’m interested in, I gave myself more flexibility and diversity to my meals. Some days I just want eggs for dinner – they’re also quick and no hassle.

I hear often, that snacking is bad, can lead to weight gain and in some cases can lead to going “off-track”. I think many confuse having a snack with negative snacking behavior like what we describe as mindless eating. I do also understand that some foods can lead an individual to not stay on track and in that case, I would encourage that person to dig deeper and think about why that food has that power.

So snacking, what’s the science say?

A 2011 study investigated the definitions of snacking, perceptions of snack foods and snacking behavior defined “having a snack” as “eating food between meals or eating a light meal (Chaplin & Smith, 2011).”

Other research has defined a snack by caloric consumption, social interactions and the time of day for the consumption, but “these definitions fail to consider the influence of social patterns and/or cultural norms on timing and size of eating occasions (Chaplin & Smith, 2011).” These definitions also don’t take into consideration a person’s motivations to eat such as not triggered by hunger or social environment.

Another article that reviewed definitions of snacking and motivations to snack found that without a consistent definition of the words snack and snack, it’s hard to determine if prevalence has increased and if it does in fact contribute to weight gain (Hess, Jonnalagadda, & Slavin, 2017).

For the purpose of this post, the definition that I’ll use is:

Snack: an individual food or light meal consumed between meals with or without intent.

Researchers of the 2011 study also found that language used to describe and talk about food influenced how it was reported such as labeling “healthy foods” as snacks (Larson, Miller, Watts, Story, & Neumark-Sztainer, 2016). Gender also made a difference.

While having a snack can simply mean that you have consumed an individual item or light meal with intent, snacking behavior is typically associated with over-consumption of calories.

A 2016 study in the Journal of Nutrition examined snacking behavior from 2,793 adolescents to determine the influence this behavior had on weight status (Larson, Miller, Watts, Story, & Neumark-Sztainer, 2016). Researchers were interested in this examination because there is a lot of conflicting findings that suggest snacking behavior may or may not contribute to weight status in young people, which impacts the strategies provided to those seeking to improve dietary adherence.

What they found was that snacks have the potential to be calorically-dense, which may cause someone to over consume calories; however, the behavior on its own of having a food or light meal in between meals isn’t inherently harmful to health (Larson, Miller, Watts, Story, & Neumark-Sztainer, 2016).

However, paired with other behaviors, there’s greater potential for calorie-dense snacks to be chosen such as watching television (mindless eating) and skipping legitimate meals.

As an adult, I look back on times in childhood and think about the things I missed out on – the hours of naps I said ‘no’ to and the snacks I missed out on. As an adult, these things have greatly helped me maintain my health, even when there are times it doesn’t seem so great.

Being “allowed” to have a snack truly comes down to the psychology of dieting and eating behaviors. It comes from having all or nothing mindset. What we thought we knew about a healthy lifestyle has been made more complicated by the reality that we need to be healthy mentally as well and understanding that creating lifestyle change doesn’t happen in a bubble.

Be intentional

Going back to the definition that I created above – the ending, with or without intent. I think this part is key. Having a snack with intention means it’s part of the plan.

When I plan out my day, especially if I know I will be in and out of the house, I intentionally pack them with me. There’s potential that I won’t need them, but having a snack planned helps me with dietary adherence or “staying on track”.

I know if I’m truly hungry, I can wait about 30 minutes before I feel like I need to find something. If I don’t have a snack with me I’m more likely to not care about my choice, which will more than likely be calorie-dense.

As a society, we’ve changed greatly in the past 50 years. The workforce is larger with more women going to work, many of us work jobs with longer hours or nontraditional hours, we’re are living at home longer, having children later, obtaining more education, etc. If our schedules have changed and adapted with the needs of society, why not adapt our eating to our lifestyles?

There is no right way to go about meal timing, which means there’s no wrong way either. If we can take away labels and change the language that we use when we describe food, we may be able to create eating behavior that encourages adherence and gives us the satisfaction of participation.

When labels are removed the possibilities are endless. Eating well doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be complicated. I carry one or two protein bars in my purse, but I will also put some crackers or pretzels for the when I’m running around.

Some of the snacks I’ve been enjoying lately are:

  • Snyder’s mini pretzels
  • Wheat Thins
  • Individually wrapped cheese bricks
  • Quaker caramel rice crisps
  • KIND bars
  • Fruit: grapes, bananas and apples
  • Protein bars and protein shakes are always a staple
  • Nuts: pistachios for JP, walnuts for me!

snacks 1

A helpful tip, that I still implement is to portion my snacks when I get them home from the store since I typically plan and prep the day I grocery shop. This isn’t necessarily ideal for all foods because some could get stale, but  portioning a few snacks can be helpful. If you don’t plan out your week and prefer to take it a day at a time, you can still portion out some snacks so that they’re easier to grab when you’re on the go.

If you don’t mind buying individually wrapped snacks, that’s also fine. I don’t buy everything individually wrapped because it’s not cost effective for us., however, if you know that the packaging makes a difference in your decision-making then you need to find a strategy that works for you.

Tell me, how are your choices impacted when you don’t have something on hand or something planned?

 

References

Chaplin, K., & Smith, A. P. (2011). DEFINITIONS AND PERCEPTIONS OF SNACKING. Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research , 53-60.

Hess, J. M., Jonnalagadda, S. S., & Slavin, J. L. (2017). What Is a Snack, Why Do We Snack, and How Can We Choose Better Snacks? A Review of the Definitions of Snacking, Motivations to Snack, Contributions to Dietary Intake, and Recommendations for Improvement. Advances in Nutrition, 466-475.

Larson, N. I., Miller, J. M., Watts, A. W., Story, M. T., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. R. (2016). Adolescent Snacking Behaviors Are Associated with Dietary Intake and Weight Status. The Journal of Nutrition, 1348-1355.

Tartakovsky, M. (2015, August 3). 5 Ways to Expand All-or-Nothing Thinking. Retrieved from Psych Central: https://psychcentral.com/blog/5-ways-to-expand-all-or-nothing-thinking/

 

 

Day 169, Quote 15: “Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”

No one is immune.

There are some things we just don’t grow out of, no matter how much we want to or how hard we try.

For some, it may be hard to look in the mirror and see the person standing in front of them instead of the person they used to be. For others, it may be how they think about their environment or how they respond to it. These may be things that we work on piece-by-piece by never fully let go.

I’m sure you’re noticing a pattern by now with how I talk with my clients and try to talk to myself. So I have no issues saying again, this is something I talk to my clients about often because this is also something I tell myself.

Behavior change is hard. I’ve talked about that before. You need to be ready for it. That being said, once you’ve felt good about making changes and you’ve practiced them, it can STILL be hard. Our behavior is a result of many things, it’s more than we “know”.

There’s two conversations going on in my head and I apologize if they get a bit jumbled, but they intertwine.

The first is reminding you that I was diagnosed with PTSD after college and just after I started losing weight. Around the time I was diagnosed with PTSD, I was also diagnosed with binge-eating disorder and anxiety. At the time I didn’t understand that multiple disorders could be diagnosed. Now, I know that it’s called concurrent disorders and it’s more common than we think.

I took medical leave almost two years ago because of my PTSD, and while I had been diagnosed four years before, I had never struggled with flashbacks, anxiety attacks and disassociation as intensely as I did when I started medical leave.

During college, food was a source of comfort for me like it is for many. It was part of socializing, it was part of coping, it was everything.

I know now that the behaviors I had that led to my weight gain were also related to my mental health. Honestly, as a college student, that wasn’t something I had considered before.

Seven months after college, I started to lose weight because I felt like I couldn’t control anything around me and this was something I knew was about my behavior. After I started losing weight, I had struggled with my eating in spurts around times of high stress, sometimes for a few days at a time, but never for longer than that. I never thought of this as more than stress-eating.

It was weird when my therapist at the time said I had binge-eating disorder. Our sessions revolved around growing up in an abusive household and how it impacted me in the present day. We talked about my relationships and the life I was creating for myself and making connections with previous experience and behavior to current experiences and behaviors. It was weird when a second therapist also agreed that I had an eating-disorder.

When I’m in good headspace, I don’t struggle with eating or decision-making or sticking to whatever “plan” I have at the time – that goes for sleep schedule, workouts, as well as eating – all aspects.

The second is telling you that I do feel good about where I’m at with everything. It’s been a weird year schedule wise, but I feel like I’ve gotten a good handle on adjusting priorities and creating a lifestyle that works for the current time.

Some of the feelings I’m going to talk about came to a surprise to me because I’m not 100% sure where they came from.

I’m also sure some things I will say may sound like they’re contradictory.

Let’s start at the beginning-ish.

In the beginning, when there were dinosaurs and I felt like change and progress were going to take forever – portion control meant eating smaller portions than what I had been, i.e. putting less on my plate and therefore in my mouth. This meaning was easy to follow because my daily diet was out-of-control and it wasn’t hard to just decrease my portions.

Eventually portion control meant making the decision to either follow the specific serving size on a package or to have a portion of that size, i.e. sometimes I have one serving, sometimes I have two, sometimes I have half a serving, etc. This was more structured and specific to my goals.

When I was competing, the above concept of portion control was a bit more meticulous. While I still chose to have one or two servings, I was more precise with my measurements.

So, I repeat – when I’m in good headspace – adherence isn’t hard for me. I’m deadline driven. I thrive in a goal-oriented environment. In isolation, the weight loss portion of my journey wasn’t hard because I had no issues sticking to smaller portions and moderating my food or working out – it was everything else in my environment that made it hard.

Today, even though I’m focusing on developing my strength and body re-composition, I’m allowing some flexibility with my eating, which means it might not be so perfect. Real life isn’t perfect. For me, I need to be flexible – I want to be flexible, otherwise, I think we find ourselves upset in every situation that we believe we have no say in or is out of our control.

I don’t have off-limit foods. I truly try to be flexible within macro-counting. I don’t eat foods I don’t like. I also try to change up my meals and be creative because you can’t live your life on a meal plan. When I’m not tracking everything, I have an 70/30 or 60/40 rule – track most things, but work on making good choices.

When JP and I go out to eat, I always get something I won’t cook for myself at home – like fish. I just can’t cook it the way they do at the restaurant. I’ll also get something slightly ridiculous like a burger with every topping on it because it’s not something I would do regularly anyway.

When we get dessert to bring home from local bakeries, my thought process is usually these will be here tomorrow and the next day and the next, so picking up the number we want is enough for now. We usually pick up two (depending on the size) and we split them. I pick one and JP will pick one. We don’t usually bring home more than we’re going to eat that day.

However, sometimes, when I’m trying to decide about something we don’t have often, I do struggle to finalize my choice. I may change my choice three or four times. I may say it out loud and talk to JP about it. Sometimes I go back to my first choice because there’s a reason I said it first, even if I don’t know it.

This is struggle I found myself in Sunday morning when we went to get bagels.

We always have bread in the house. Bread isn’t special. We make sandwiches a few times a week with whole grain bread and it’s satisfying enough – fiber, vitamins, all the things a grain should provide.

We always have English muffins in the house too. We probably eat them twice a week and since we don’t buy burger buns, sometimes we use plain English muffins in place of those. If you’re making a face at that, you don’t know the magic of a toasted English muffin and how it holds your burger patty and toppings in place!

We don’t keep bagels in the house. I’m not really sure why, but it’s probably because the size of the English muffin is enough to satisfy the craving and provide fullness without being too full. Sometimes a bagel can be too much.

There’s a bagel place by JP’s parent’s house called Gunther Tootie’s. The name always makes me giggle and their bagels fill me up for hours. I usually get a breakfast sandwich and that accounts for breakfast and a snack because it really is that filling for me.

I like to plan what I’m getting when I go out, but at 29, I also know what I like to eat. I know that I don’t like poppy seed bagels, but I do like lemon poppy seed muffins. I know that I like the idea of everything bagels, but I don’t like the mess they create so I never get them. Maybe I’m a pain in the ass, but I’ve talked to pickier eaters.

The conversation I usually have with myself and even with JP when he’s deciding is – sweet or savory? What am I trying to satisfy because let’s face it – this is about taste. From there I’ll ask what stands out that sounds good and what will keep you satisfied. I do ask myself about satisfaction in relation to fullness because I don’t like to be hungry after I’ve eaten a meal that I believe should’ve kept me full. I also ask about satisfaction in relation to taste because 1. I should like the taste 2. Food is also about experience. Everything has its place: fuel, experience, nutrients.

Yesterday morning I knew I wanted a bagel, obviously. I figured I would probably get a bagel sandwich, but I couldn’t decide between sweet and savory. My first choice was a bagel with salmon because we NEVER buy salmon. I then went down the rabbit hole of should I get this, or should I get a bacon, egg and cheese, maybe I should get a chocolate chip bagel and honey walnut cream cheese.

image1.jpeg

In my head, I probably went through five or six choices and then said to JP, “I think I’m going to get salmon on a rainbow bagel, and I’d like to bring home two bagels for us to have for breakfast this week.”

He looked at me and said “yeah, we could do that.”

So, I ordered a rainbow bagel with salmon, regular cream cheese, red onion and tomato to eat right then and a chocolate chip bagel and an onion bagel for later this week. They’re already planned for breakfast on Tuesday.

image2.jpeg

This was the compromise for the battle in my head.

I know it’s one that many others face too.

Here’s what I know about this battle.

  1. I know that the bagels aren’t going anywhere, at least from what I know about this business – they aren’t going anywhere. And if they were, there’s other places that bagels can be obtained. I also know that it doesn’t matter that I know that. This kind of thinking is associated with disordered eating behavior and eating disorders – and yes, these are different, but connected concepts.
  2. I know that it’s ok to not have a perfect plan or to change your mind and therefore alter the plan. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to be in the mood for, but this was more than not being able to decide what I thought would taste good. This was a moment I felt that I wasn’t in control of my relationship with food.

We have many relationships. We have relationships with people around us. We have relationships with ourselves. We also have relationships with food. Our relationships impact our decision-making process in both positive and negative ways. They create our environment.

These are two of the most important questions I ask clients – who or what is in your environment and what are these relationships like?

These are also questions I ask and reevaluate in my own journey.

Who or what is in my environment and what is the impact they are having on me.

Right now, so many exciting things are happening, and I never thought I would get here. It’s overwhelming. It’s a good overwhelming, but with the excitement comes fear and doubt of something new. I don’t always feel it, but sometimes it creeps in.  Sometimes it puts pressure on the other relationships I have.

For me acknowledging the feeling in general is a good step. Talking about how it’s impacting other aspects of my life is another.

My relationship with food isn’t perfect, but it’s better than it used to be, it’s a work-in-progress.

Trusting myself is going to be an ongoing project and that’s okay.

Great relationships take work and time. I’m not in a rush.

 

❤ Cristina

*If you think you may be struggling with an eating disorder or disordered behavior patterns, please seek proper professional assistance. The National Eating Disorders Association has a helpline that’s open 24-hours a day. If you don’t think your behavior warrants that call, consider reaching out to a therapist in your area who can assist your specific needs.

 

 

Recipe: Banana Bread Protein Pancakes for 2

One of the most popular posts on this blog is my protein pancakes using Kodiak Cakes pancake mix. Their protein mix (Powercakes) released in 2013, well before I created my recipe in 2015, but it was before I could find the mix anywhere near me. My recipe is one of the simplest recipes I have on this blog.

Their mixes have gone through some changes over the past few years, allowing them to continue to be balanced and provide more volume.

Kodiak Cakes Powercakes are a staple in our house because of how easy they are and with their recipe changes to their mix, I don’t find myself often needing to use my higher protein recipe.

However, there are times when we run out of mix or we’re not home, like this weekend, but we want pancakes.

As I mentioned the other day, there were a few things we were bringing from our fridge to JP’s parents fridge because we didn’t want to come home to throwing out food. A banana is one of those items I put in our food bag for the weekend.

This morning we woke up at 6:30 am without an alarm. This is sleeping in for us. We went to bed early last night after pizza date night. We had content bellies then, but this morning I could hear JP’s growling.

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He asked what was for breakfast and my first response was “I don’t know, eggs? What are you in the mood for?” His response was usual – “I don’t care.” It doesn’t really answer the question, but it doesn’t ignore it either.

So as always, I looked at my Pinterest boards to see if there was anything I had pinned that I’ve wanted to try and then I searched for something new when I didn’t see anything I wanted to make.

I knew I had a banana and that’s about all I knew. Here’s the recipe that inspired mine.

And here’s the journey of my banana.

What You’ll Need

  • a medium sized banana (mine weighed 126g)
  • 1 egg
  • ~1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of milk (I used 2% because that was what was in the fridge)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 10g of protein powder (I used chocolate cupcake protein from PEScience)

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine a medium-sized banana and whole egg using. I used a whisk because the batter won’t be super thick, but may have banana chunks.

2. Add all-purpose flour leveled in measuring cup. I had started with a 1/4 cup and then went back to add an additional tablespoon. Using a full 1/3 cup would be completely appropriate.

3. Add a splash of vanilla. This is really about taste. You could also add some cinnamon if you wanted to as well.

4.  Add 1/4 tsp of baking powder.

5. While the banana is sweet, the pancake batter is really plain without a sweetener of some kind. I used a teaspoon of brown sugar, but you could use honey, maple syrup or an alternative like Splenda/Truvia. Just be mindful different kinds of sugar have different levels of sweetness so you may not need as much.

6. This step really is optional, but if it’s left out then these aren’t really protein-y pancakes. Protein powder. I used 10g, which is about 1/3 of a scoop of protein for PEScience. This adds about 4g of protein per serving, so 8g for all of the batter.

* For rough estimate, I divided the batter in half and called it good enough.

7. Heat a medium or large skillet to medium or medium/high heat. I used a little cooking spray on the pan, you don’t need a lot and depending on the pan you may not need to spray in between cakes. Pour batter to pre-heated skillet and cook on each side for just over a minute. This is relative to your pan and how it contains heat.

8. (optional) Top with chopped pecans or walnuts.

Nutrition for just the pancakes: 3.7F/35.3C/11.2P

 

❤ Cristina

Recipe: Shredded Steak Tostadas

As warmer weather is approaching, we’re shifting how often we use the oven. It doesn’t matter if you have air conditioning, the oven turned on in the late spring and summer makes for a really warm kitchen. We cook a lot of things stove top, use our George Foreman or go outside and grill.

For this recipe, all you need is pots and pans and some tongs.

As we’re getting back into our routine of having dinner together again since the semester is over, I’ve been trying to incorporate meals that take a little longer or utilize entrees that may have a little assembly. I don’t need to rush dinner or have it in a Tupperware anymore, so this is a perfect opportunity to use corn tortillas.

I’ve made BBQ chicken tostadas before and since I had shaved steak I looked to see if there was a recipe that would be similar that I could check out.

Here’s what my Pinterest search looked like.

Pinterest steak tostada

So I skimmed through a few recipes and then decided to throw my own thing together.

What You’ll Need

  • Vegetables to saute (whatever you like, onions and peppers are perfect with this)
    • Red onion
    • White onion
    • Tomatoes
    • Bell Pepper
    • Mushrooms
  • 8 ounces shaved steak (I used Trader Joe’s because it’s lean and reasonably priced)
  • Jerk seasoning
  • 4 corn tortillas (I used Goya)
  • ~1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • ~2T Mozzarella cheese
  • Cooking spray

Directions

1. Wash and chop vegetables into small pieces. They don’t need to be minced, but should be close to bite size.

2. Spray a medium sized pot with cooking spray and add vegetables. Put on medium heat. Stir occasionally as vegetables sweat.

3. In a separate pan, add shaved steak and seasoning blend. I used Jerk seasoning, but you could use something smokey or spicy for this recipe. Put on medium heat so you don’t burn the meat.

4. In a small pan, spray cooking spray or use a little bit of olive oil (with a paper towel) to lightly coat the bottom. Put on high heat to get pan to temperature, then decrease heat to medium/medium-high. Place a corn tortilla until you see air pockets form and the bottom side of the tortilla is browned. This should take a few minutes if the pan isn’t warmed up yet, then flip and let second side to brown. Repeat this for all corn tortillas. You may need to spray or wipe olive oil in between tortillas.

5. For plating, place a corn tortilla on a plate and spread plain Greek yogurt, I used a spoonful. Since this recipe makes two, I used half the steak for both tortillas, then added vegetables followed by shredded mozzarella cheese. Many recipes called for mozzarella, but you could use cheddar or a blend – whatever you prefer.

Nutritional estimates: ~350 calories, 11F/36C/32P

As always, nutrition will change based on brands and cuts of meat. If you use a different cut of meat, it may has more fat and therefore more calories. If you use more or less vegetables, etc.

If you want to check out the recipe that had inspired my BBQ chicken tostadas a while back, here it is!

❤ Cristina

Wellness Refocused Education: Protein and Amino Acids

We’ve talked about fats and carbohydrates (part 1 and part 2) already, but what about protein?

Like the other macronutrients, protein can be misunderstood.

Like dietary fat, I’ve heard from people including trainers that protein can make you fat if you consume too much. Let’s be clear – too many calories can lead to fat gain, not necessarily any one specific macronutrient. However, with that in mind, we need to be thoughtful about what is paired together with protein as well as how protein is utilized in the body. Is eating a whole egg really a problem, or is it that many people won’t just eat one or two yolks, but will pair the meal with buttered toast, multiple pieces of fatty bacon and top it all with salt? While these components may not always be the “healthiest” choice, individually they can be fine in moderation, but together – it’s like a league of villains, or can be if they are consumed too often.

Ok, so what is protein?

Chemically, protein is a polypeptide of 50 or more amino acids that have biological activity. Protein is found in our DNA, which means it is found in our muscle mass, blood, bones and skin. “They function in metabolism, immunity, fluid balance, and nutrient transport, and in certain circumstance they can provide energy (Timberlake, Karen, 2018).”

Nutritionally, we know that one gram of protein has four calories associated with it. We know that protein needs are lower in comparison to carbohydrates and fats because the body utilizes carbohydrates as a first line of energy followed by fat (Thompson & Manore, 2015). This doesn’t mean that protein isn’t important. Dietary protein helps us conduct daily business. It helps the body to function without depleting protein found in the body (i.e. muscle mass).

But, you can consume too much protein and we will get to that, but first some background.

In chemistry, protein is called a polypeptide, which a chain of amino acids.

Amino acids are called building blocks because they are single units that bond together to make protein.

There are 20 amino acids found in our bodies (Timberlake, Karen, 2018). We can make 11 of them, but there’s another nine that we need to get with our diet. Amino acids that must be consumed are called essential amino acids. They’re essential because without them our bodies can’t make other proteins for other body functions like neurotransmitters. The 11 amino acids we can make are called nonessential amino acids.

  1. Alanine
  2. Arginine
  3. Asparagine
  4. Aspartate
  5. Cysteine
  6. Glutamate
  7. Glutamine
  8. Glycine
  9. Histidine*
  10. Isoleucine*
  11. Leucine*
  12. Lysine*
  13. Methionine*
  14. Phenylalanine*
  15. Proline
  16. Serine
  17. Threonine*
  18. Tryptophan*
  19. Tyrosine
  20. Valine*

*essential amino acids

I’m sure many of you have heard of BCAA’s or branched chain amino acids. You’ve probably seen them in the store in a pill or powdered form. Simply, these are specific amino acids that have a branch. They can assist in decreasing protein synthesis, which means they can help prevent muscle breakdown and losses, however, there isn’t much research the proves this to be true or consistent (Wolfe, 2017). There are three BCAA’s out of the nine essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine.

I’ve heard people say that amino acids are inferior to protein. You can’t confused BCAA’s with all amino acids. I would say that drinking or consuming a BCAA if you recognize deficits or holes in your nutrition can be helpful, however, I would recommend that you eat a complete protein rather than drink amino acids or a protein shake. But – remember, it’s also about preference too – drinking BCAA’s won’t hurt you and some people just like protein shakes. I’ve tried BCAA’s, but I never noticed a difference and that could be because of dietary diversity even when in a caloric deficit.

Moving on.

So an amino acid is equal to a single unit, protein is equal to many units of amino acids. As you can imagine, there are many combinations of amino acids and the combination determines the function of the protein in our bodies.

Here are some things in our bodies made up of amino acids:

  • endorphins
  • hemoglobin
  • collagen
  • insulin
  • enzymes
  • muscle

Above, I mentioned complete protein. A complete protein has all of the essential amino acids in it.

Examples of complete proteins:

  • egg whites
  • meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • milk

An incomplete protein lacks one or more essential amino acids.

Examples of incomplete proteins:

  • corn – missing lysine and tryptophan
  • beans – missing methionine and tryptophan
  • almonds and walnuts – missing lysine and tryptophan
  • peas and peanuts – missing methionine
  •  wheat, rice and oats – missing lysine

Dietary protein helps us build our bodies (Thompson & Manore, 2015). Our bodies are resilient and function smartly. When protein is broken down in the body, the amino acids are recycled into new proteins. Like mentioned above, protein helps with hormone balance, fluid and electrolyte balance, repairs our bodies and helps us grow, but as an energy source our needs are pretty low. This is due in part because we recycle amino acids because our bodies don’t have a “specialized storage form” of protein.

So how much should you eat?

At one point, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) suggested .8g per kilogram body weight per day for both inactive and active individuals. However, more research has shown that individuals who are active may need more. The ranges should vary based on a number of factors such as gender, age, size, but also the kind of activity you do, which is where I slightly disagree with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. A 2009 review of these guidelines determined the following concepts:

  1. protein is a critical part of the adult diet
  2. protein needs are proportional to body weight; NOT energy intake
  3. adult protein utilization is a function of intake at individual meals
  4. most adults benefit from protein intakes above the minimum RDA

They examined current perceptions about protein as well as benefits to treat and prevent obesity since 35.7% of U.S. adults were considered obese and 16.9% of U.S. children and adolescents were obese at the time of the review. The most recent NHANES data from 2013-2014 shows that 38% of adults are obese with 19% of children and adolescents being obese. A major flaw pointed out by this review highlighted the proportion of protein to carbohydrates and fats may be adequate with high energy consumption, but that as “total daily energy intake is often below 1400 kcal/day” when individuals seek to lose weight it could be potentially harmful to limit protein needs to the RDA as a loss in lean muscle mass could result (Layman, 2009).

In 2011, a study looking at required and optimal amounts of dietary protein for athletes found that while the RDA was .8g per kilogram, it was would be appropriate for athletes, both endurance (distance runners) and strength (bodybuilding and weightlifting) to consume between 1.6 to 2.25 times the RDA or 1.2g to 1.8g per kilogram (Phillips & Van Loon, 2011). The study also suggested that protein consumption between 1.8 to 2.0 per kilogram could be helpful depending on caloric deficit for the preservation of lean muscle mass.

Now, remember this study looked at protein consumption for very active people.

If you’re sedentary, there’s no reason to consume as much as an athlete. If you are active, you may also need to consider how much potential lean muscle mass you have. If you’re overweight or obese, your protein needs may be less.

I formerly had a client who was consuming 1g per pound she weighed and it was over 200g of protein because a former coach had recommended it. She had an equal amount of protein to carbohydrates, which is a common calculation, but necessary.

A 1:1 ratio of protein to weight in pounds is a common suggestion and it’s one that I utilized when I first started tracking macros, but as I started looking at my specific goals and needs, I realized what I was consuming wasn’t helping me and I redistributed my nutrient goals.

While this client was very active and participated in weightlifting multiple times a week this 1:1 ratio of protein was inappropriate for her because it wasn’t taking into consideration lean mass, but instead overall mass. It also left her feeling bloated, hungry and often with disproportionate nutrients to be satisfied.

So what can happen if you consume too much protein?

There are a few health conditions that have raised concerns, but they may not impact everyone – there’s also some contradictory research and you need to figure out what side of the fence you’re on.

Concerns around heart disease and high protein consumption also involve high amounts of saturated fat found in animal products (Thompson & Manore, 2015).”. High saturated fat levels have been know to increase blood cholesterol levels and increase risk for heart disease. However, a moderate protein diet that is low in saturated fat can be good for the heart. Again, this is correlation, not necessarily causation.

Another concern is that excess protein found in the urine due to kidney impairment. “As a consequence, eating too much protein results in the removal and excretion of the nitrogen in the urine and the use of the remaining components for energy (Thompson & Manore, 2015).”

When protein is found in the urine it’s called proteinuria. As part of the body’s fitration system, kidneys remove waste from your blood, but allow nutrients like protein to return to the bloodstream to be recycled through the body. Protein in your urine can be a sign of impaired kidney function. It’s important to note there is no evidence that more protein causes kidney disease in healthy people that aren’t susceptible to the disease, however, more water should be consumed to flush out the kidneys because of protein metabolism (Thompson & Manore, 2015).

Bloating is also possible if “too much” protein is consumed in one meal and your body doesn’t produce enough enzymes to assist in digestion. Chemical protein digestion occurs in the small intestine as a result from the enzyme pepsin. “Too much” is relative. I get bloated if I have more than 40g of protein in a meal. Depending on planning I can prevent too much consumption, but that’s not always the case.

Like mentioned above, athlete and highly active individuals may need more than the RDA, but the average person may not need as much. Much recent research I found that examines the impacts of high protein consumption utilizes athletic bodies in high resistance training settings, which isn’t necessarily a sample that will provide data that can be used for recommendations for an inactive or lightly active person.

resistence training and protein

The data is still interesting, but may not be helpful to the average person.

When I did find research articles discussing higher protein needs in obese individuals, I found many studies designed diet plans for participants with sub-1000 kcal/day. This is an extreme diet that may not typically be suggested for one to conduct without being monitored. An example of this extreme design is a study published in 2015 that examined normal protein intake versus high protein intake as well as carbohydrate reduction to determine success in weight loss and maintenance. Researchers assigned adult participants to 800 kcal/day for eight weeks and once participants had an 11 kg loss they randomly assigned them to a new plan with varying protein intake for six months. They found that individuals with higher protein intake were able to adhere to the plan, which not only resulted body fat losses, less inflammation and better blood lipid panels, but also were capable of maintaining losses. Researchers also suggested that less restrictive approaches also lead to higher adherence (Astrup, Raben, & Geiker, 2015).

Again, interesting, but this is an extreme that hopefully many won’t use or need.

What about if you eat too little?

While we don’t need as much protein for energy as many believe, we do need dietary protein to assist in building our bodies like mentioned above. Without dietary protein, our bodies breakdown stored protein i.e. muscle to be utilized to assist in daily functions such as creating amino acids. A true deficit of protein can result in a greater number of infections if the body is unable to produce enough antibodies. A true deficit occurs over time and in extreme circumstances; however, can be more likely if an individual is in a large caloric deficit.

So, easy question-  what food sources have protein in them?

 

Obviously meat is an excellent protein source, but there’s more than meat. Legumes like lentils, black beans and green peas as well as nuts have protein in them too. While oatmeal is a well-known grain, it also has about 5g of protein per half cup serving. Dairy, while also another carbohydrate source, is also an excellent source of protein and the mineral calcium – if you’re not lactose intolerant!

Vegetables that have protein in them that I recommend to clients who are trying to balance out density and volume in their eating include broccoli, Brussels sprouts and asparagus.

Like the other macronutrients, protein can be flexible within reason. Considering multiple factors to determine a specific plan for you will be key. It might take trial and error, it may also take some adjustments, but give yourself time.

Your nutrition should be specific to you and your goals. It should take all of you into consideration like have you approached menopause or had a hysterectomy? Hormones play a huge role in overall nutritional needs. What’s your sleep like? Are you on medications? What’s your stress like? Are you sitting more or less than before?

I know many of these questions can seem silly when posed, but they are important.

The body is a weird organism, just when we think we have it figured it out, it changes on us.

References:

Layman, D. K. (2009). Dietary Guidelines should reflect new understandings about adult protein needs. Nutrition and Metabolism, 6-12.

Phillips, S., & Van Loon, L. (2011). Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. Journal of Sports Science, 29-38.

Thompson, J., & Manore, M. (2015). Nutrition: An Applied Approach. San Francisco: Pearson Education.

Timberlake, Karen. (2018). Amino Acids, Proteins and Enzymes. In K. Timberlake, Chemistry: An introduction to general, organic, and biological chemistry (pp. 548-583). New York: Pearson.

Wolfe, R. R. (2017). Branched-chain amino acids and muscle protein synthesis in humans: myth or reality? Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14-30.

Day 24, Movie Quote 3: “Your Move Chief”

“Some people can’t believe in themselves until someone else believes in them first.”– Sean Maguire, from Good Will Hunting

I can be like this.

But,  it used to be worse.

I used to feel – I used to believe that I couldn’t do great things unless someone else saw it in me to. That kind of thinking got me no where. That kind of thinking caused me to set goals that never really were about me. I’m a little more risky with my goals now, but I still look on with caution at times.

I think we all need some kind of validation that we’re making the right moves.

I was driving in the car the other day and I had the radio on, which may seem like a normal thing. But sometime over the summer when I was figuring out my life for lack of a better phrase, I found myself stuck on sports talk radio. I know that’s really weird and JP doesn’t understand it either, but I found myself unable to change the radio station.  However, about a month ago, I started playing with the buttons to find something else.

Again, this is weird for many people, but to me it makes sense and for others with anxiety or trauma in their past, it’s going to make sense to. Voices that seemed calming for a few months with concepts that I had to focus on so I understood the discussion weren’t necessary anymore. I didn’t need to hear those specific voices over the airways any more to get through my drive.

So, I’m driving and I’m listening to the radio and the guest of a show talks about how when we are determined to achieve something we look forward at what is still yet to come. He said, it’s reasonable to reflect because we do need to think about where we came from sometimes.

He then continued to compare it to driving.

You drive by looking forward. Yes, you do use the rearview mirror or side mirrors to see what’s happening behind you, but if you continued to look that way the whole time you’d crash. He explained that to move forward you need to see straight ahead of you and with a wide windshield you can see so much more road than you do in the overhead mirror looking back.

I don’t know why, but this just clicked and then the skies open up and things felt good… no, not really, but it did click.

I didn’t think I would ever be here. I’ve said that before. But with the first week of classes behind me, I really never thought I would be here. When I started this degree, it was solely to be able to be more educated and better qualified to assist others.

I think experience is important. For me it was hard to listen to a doctor who had never been overweight or never struggled with their health in the ways I had. It was hard to connect with people that couldn’t empathize with me about how I saw or felt the world. I think experience is necessary to be able to see the world from multiple points of view, but I also believe you need education behind you to further that experience or provide some foundation.

I know people can be successful with one or the other, but for me, I want both because you don’t know what you don’t know until you learn what you didn’t know.

Thinking about the conversations in class and the state of affairs of healthcare and health education and stigma in general – I’m thinking more about population health. That’s what public health is anyway. I found it interesting because it intersects everything I practice and preach – mental and physical as well as how social relationships make an impact on both of those aspects of health. Population health asks how do we assist large groups of people, how do we to educate different populations at their level, how do we create an environment where people who want help can ask for it, how to provide resources and tools to prevent illness and disease.

I love working with clients on an individual level, but if there isn’t access to basic needs like healthy food options for the short term, they won’t be able to see how to create a plan for the long term.

It’s weird to say that coaching may never be full-time like I thought I wanted it to be, but I think that also means that there’s more possibilities than I imagined. I guess the road is wider and continues on.

I think working with individuals has shown me that I can teach, that I can make a difference in how someone sees themselves and therefore sets, works towards and achieves their goals. Going back to school has shown me that it can start with an interest and with hard work, it can become more than Googling research articles for fun.

We all have doubt.  I have doubt. But little things over time can help us change how we see ourselves and our abilities.

Week one of the spring semester done, fifteen more until graduation.

Let’s make some magic happen.

❤ Cristina

 

Commentary: America the Beautiful

While I was picking up a book I had on hold at the library today- yes, I still read REAL books, I went over the movie section to see if there was anything good. I found two documentaries: America the Beautiful and Food, Inc. So far I’ve watched America the Beautiful and it was heartbreaking.

 

America the Beautiful is about body image, what beauty is and how society and the media. It specifically follows a young aspiring model (12-years old) Gerren Taylor. At 12, Gerren is almost 6′ tall and can take a runway like a pro. She had been teased by classmates for her height, but professionals from the modeling industry complimented her and most couldn’t believe she was only 12. Hell I couldn’t believe it until the filmmaker said so.

Since Gerren was 12 when she started as a runway model, she hadn’t fully developed her body, more specifically grown into her hips. After three years of jobs from Tommy Hilfiger to Marc Jacobs, Gerren had a hard time getting work. She tried going to Europe and they told her that her size 4 hips (38″) were too big for the clothing and she was now considered obese for the modeling world.

In one scene, Gerren lifts up her shirt to show her flat stomach and reiterates that it’s flat. She then points to her hips and says, “this is bone, I can’t change what my mom gave me”. Everything about her body is perfect; at this time she’s 15/16 years old and is about 6′ tall. Most women would admire and strive to be her, but viewers see her self-esteem torn down because an industry has set unrealistic standards for the average woman. While Gerren wasn’t and isn’t average, she still thinks like any other human and words can hurt.

As I was watching the movie, I thought about how the media and society can influence us and how we can toss blame around. When Britney Spears was in her prime, parents would complain that she was the reason their daughters dressed in minimal clothing. Images of models and porn stars give us unrealistic standards of beauty, body image, sex and love.

I, myself, have embrace hot bodies that are photographers and I have wished that I could look like them. There are even times that I get overwhelmed scrolling through instagram because I wish there was more time in the day, I wish I didn’t have a second job or that there was more money for food or a million other excuses I can think of for why I don’t have a body like those I see. There have been days when I’ve worked out, not because I wanted to or because I felt powerful after, but because I felt a pressure to do so. I can’t tell you how bad I want to be out of my size 10 body, but watching this film made me take a step back and realize that there are times I’m doing it for approval. Who’s approval- I have no idea, but there are times when I think about “how bad to I really want this?”

The truth is, there are days when it’s really hard. There are days when I have really push myself to stick to eating balanced and there are days when it’s easy and I look forward to my veggies and protein. There are days when I allow myself to get flooded and upset for living in a city where I still don’t know many people. There are days when I get my butt to the gym and work as hard as possible. The past month has really been a roller coaster. And the water challenge I’m taking with my friend has been a lot harder than I thought it would be, but it’s also making me pause and think about what I’m consuming. It’s been 4.5 days since I’ve had a coffee or soda, I did have one beer, but if I don’t have many over the last 25.5 days, it’ll still be a good accomplishment. This is definitely harder than I thought it would be, but it’s a good step to get back on track, rather than go cold turkey altogether.

This film really opened my eyes about my own body image and maybe it’s time I take a break and stop trying to be so perfect. Maybe I watch my intake and eat as clean as I can, but stop killing myself over the processed cookie or tortilla chip I had earlier in the day. Today was a pretty good day, but there were times that I had to try very hard to not eat out of boredom or stress.

Maybe I need to stop putting unrealistic expectations on myself, love the size 10 jeans I’m currently wearing and hope that I can reach my size 8 goal in 6 months.

❤ Cristina