Tagged: health

What 200 Calories Look Like in Different Foods

Here’s a photo series showing how much of a given food you get for 200 calories. As you think about your training and race day nutrition, check out the benefits of eating well vs junk food.

Being able to visualize how much of a given food pays back in calories might help you make decisions come snack or meal time.

Vegetables are good value for calories. And I know I’d rather eat three eggs than eight Hershey’s kisses.

Nutrition is a key part of training and racing triathlon. Use these photos to guide your diet and decision making.

What does 200 Calories Look Like?

How many calories are there in the foods you eat?

How many calories are there in the foods you eat?

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Going Organic

I am pretty good at eating organic but the other day it occurred to me I use a fair amount of chemicals in my “beauty regime” – shampoo, face wash, shaving gel, conditioner, moisturizer, hair gel, toothpaste, soap, shower gel, deodorant, etc. – and it might be worth changing my buying habits.

I realize this is off topic, but if my choices mean I am healthier, then I can perform better, and race well long into my old age!

 

Buying organic guide carcinogens chemicals USDA natural beauty products skincare holistic

Reading that product list above, you would be forgiven for thinking I’m vain! Having stopped and examined what products I use every day, I was surprised how much chemicals I was using. I don’t think I use these products excessively but glancing at the ingredients list, there are a lot of names I can’t pronounce and nor have I any idea what the implications of using them are. Even in small quantities they are bound to be having an impact.

Many of the ingredients are carcinogens, eg parabens, and are likely causing damage on a daily basis. Check out the Organic Pharmacy’s comprehensive list of ingredients that are carcinogens, contaminants, etc.

Why go organic?

The skin is our largest organ and “absorbs 70 percent of the creams, serums, gels and lotions you apply to it.” (SheKnows.com)

If your skin is absorbing these products, then the chemical ingredients are eventually making it into our bodies. Quite scary that we are voluntarily putting harmful chemicals into our body via our skin, despite the fact we would never do so via our mouths!

organic beauty products holistic health skincare chemicals USDA organic

 

How will I go organic?

I will be taking a step-by-step approach. As products run out, I will replace my current brand of choice with organic options and gradually develop preferences through trial and error.

There are cost implications to this switch of course. Organic products tend to be more expensive and throwing out a whole array of products seems wasteful. Maybe I should act swiftly and decisively but what’s one more half bottle of product when I’ve been using this stuff for 15 years?

I also want to do the research gradually so I can make the right choices for me – the healthiest option at the right price point for me. I can’t afford, and don’t want to pay $100 for a bottle of shampoo. I’d rather stick to the ~$20 I currently spend. I also want to discover the best brands, and avoid those hidden tactics and marketing behind products.

USDA organic labelling healthy holistic beauty skincare options

Organic is not always what we might picture it to be – there is a halo effect to the label organic. I don’t want to make changes that are not benefitting me. It’s not about the feel good factor, I want to make a real difference and try and do what I can to avoid any health issues down the line. Apparently, the proportion of organic ingredients may be low, or the term ‘organic’ may be purely marketing fluff.

Over the next few weeks and months I will replace all my products with organic equivalents, hopefully without breaking the bank, and hopefully in the process, extending my life by a good few years!

It’s All About The Bike

Scorchio! 7 “hot” tips to keep cool in the summer heat

Ugh, here comes the summer. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sun and warmth but I can’t bear the humidity. I hate being sweaty before I even reach the office, and the subway in New York City is unbearable. Add to that the extra hassle of hydrating and my pale Irish skin not being able to handle the intensity of the summer sun.

tips for keeping cool hydrated in the summer heat

I’m not the biggest summer fan. Give me 12 months of Spring and Fall/Autumn any day (year!).

But, we have to adapt to what we’re given, and he who adapts best wins the race, or at least sustains their training for longer.

Here are seven tips to stay cool in the summer heat:

1) Prepare from the moment you get up. Drink plenty of water first thing in the morning so you start the day hydrated. Get some electrolytes on board pre-exercise. Just like eating, drinking plenty is an important part of breakfast. I keep a water bottle by my bed and drink it is as I get out of bed.

2) Exercise early in the morning before it gets hot. I find this gives me energy for the day. You can also work out later at night when it is also cool, but bear in mind recovery time, nutrition and sleep. Stay out of the midday sun!

3) Another option is to work out indoors, in air conditioning out of the heat.

4) No cotton. No, no, no! Wear dry-fit gear that helps wick sweat away from the body.

5) Freeze your water bottles overnight. As they melt they will provide ice-cold refreshing water! I dare you to pour some over your head – it’ll keep you alert & sharp!

6) Cold showers help regulate your body temperature as well as helping your body recovery after exercise. I love them in the morning to wake me up and I love them after a workout to help me cool down.

7) Protect yourself from the sun. Wear a vented cap and glasses to help keep the sun off but also keep the air flowing and allow heat to escape. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

While the heat sucks and makes each practice tougher, we need to keep training through the tough conditions that we may encounter during a race. With a bit of planning you can manage the heat and minimize the effect on your body.

Going bananas.

I am not a huge fan of sports drinks, gels, etc. Their taste and colour do not appeal, and neither does the fact they are not natural.

Maaaaaybe it puts me at a disadvantage on the nutrition front (probably not, it’s just another excuse for when I race!), but I’ll stick to the bananas and coconut water, and save myself a ton of money in the process.

Here’s an interesting, if academic, article on the merits of bananas. It is sponsored by Dole Foods, so not exactly independent! Some choice quotes:

The bananas provided the cyclists with antioxidants not found in sports drinks as well as a greater nutritional boost, including fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6, the study showed. In addition, bananas have a healthier blend of sugars than sports drinks.

“Bananas come prepackaged with fiber, nutrients and antioxidants,” said Nieman, adding the research translates to any exercise.”

I think there are a lot of athletes who don’t like the thought of drinking carbohydrate sports drinks, which are essentially flavored sugar water,” he said. “This type of research shows that you can have healthier carbohydrate sources before and after exercise that will support athletic performance just as well as a sports drink,” Nieman said.

I will now be telling my athletes to stock up on bananas for the bike leg:

energy drinks gels nutrition banana diet hydrating for triathletes triathlon ironman race nutrition

“Banana loading”

Bananas Are as Beneficial as Sports Drinks, Study Suggests
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0037479

ScienceDaily (May 29, 2012) — Bananas have long been a favorite source of energy for endurance and recreational athletes. Bananas are a rich source of potassium and other nutrients, and are easy for cyclists, runners or hikers to carry.

Research conducted at Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab in the Kannapolis-based North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) has revealed additional benefits.

“We wanted to see which was more beneficial when consumed during intense cycling — bananas or a carbohydrate sports drink,” said Dr. David C. Nieman, director of the human performance lab and a member of the College of Health Sciences faculty at Appalachian.

“We found that not only was performance the same whether bananas or sports drinks were consumed, there were several advantages to consuming bananas,” he said.

The bananas provided the cyclists with antioxidants not found in sports drinks as well as a greater nutritional boost, including fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6, the study showed. In addition, bananas have a healthier blend of sugars than sports drinks.

The study, funded by Dole Foods, has been published in the peer-reviewed online journal PLoS ONE published by the nonprofit Public Library of Science.

For the study, trained cyclists consumed either a cup of carbohydrate drink or half a banana every 15 minutes during a 75-kilometer simulated road race lasting 2.5 to 3 hours. Blood samples taken from the cyclists before and after the exercise were analyzed at the NCRC Metabolomics Laboratory for more than 100 metabolites — molecules associated with metabolism.

“Bananas come prepackaged with fiber, nutrients and antioxidants,” said Nieman, adding the research translates to any exercise.”

The mode of exercise is not the issue. I think there are a lot of athletes who don’t like the thought of drinking carbohydrate sports drinks, which are essentially flavored sugar water,” he said. “This type of research shows that you can have healthier carbohydrate sources before and after exercise that will support athletic performance just as well as a sports drink,” Nieman said.

About the research team Other members of the research team from Appalachian were Dr. Dru Henson, Department of Biology; Dr. Andrew Shanely, Human Performance Lab; Dr. Amy M. Knab, Human Performance Lab; Dr. Lynn Cialdella-Kam, Human Performance Lab; Dr. Nicholas D. Gillitt, Dole Nutrition Research Laboratory, N.C. Research Campus; Dr. Wei Sha, UNC Charlotte and N.C. Research Campus; and Dr. Fuxia Jin, Dole Nutrition Research Laboratory, N.C. Research Campus

Keeping hydrated: nothing gets you up in the morning like a full bladder!

I used to wake up every morning thirsty and lethargic, which made it really hard to get up in the morning. This is not an ideal scenario if trying to get to an early morning workout. A comfortable bed and a partner beside you will always be hard to leave in the morning for a cycle in the cold and dark, but I realized my dehydration was something I could control and eliminate. Every little bit counts, right?

I realized I was becoming dehydrated overnight, thus impacting my ability to get up and my performance in training. Drinking fluids upon waking up soon eliminated this early morning drag and eliminated one more excuse to skip training.

keeping hydrated while training for triathlon ironman race day training nutrition diet tips advice

What is dehydration?
Simple: dehydration occurs when more fluids leave the body than enter it. We lose water constantly as we breathe, sweat and urinate.

This can happen when exercising or through normal, light activity. There are different levels of dehydration, from slight fluid loss all the way to dehydration and significant body weight loss while stranded in the desert.

At night, even though we are not exercising, as athletes, our bodies are working to recover from the previous day’s exertion. This requires water, and when we sleep we obviously are unable to take on any fluids to counteract this water loss. The dry air from air conditioners and heaters also causes excess water loss and dehydration.

How does it impact us?
Hydration leads to headaches, lethargy, bad moods and reduced alertness. Some studies suggest fluid loss affects our ability to sweat and thus cool the body – thus  impacting our training and race performance.

We are made of water, particularly the brain and muscles. We’ve all had a cramp in the pool or the end of a run on a hot day, caused by not drinking enough water. Water also lubricates our joints and helps prevent injuries.

Water transports oxygen and nutrients through the body which is key to optimizing athletic performance, while water is key for digestion and breaking down food in the stomach. Some studies suggest a loss of 2% bodyweight can negatively impact performance by 10-20%.

How to tell if you’re dehydrated.
The color of your pee will tell you how (de)hydrated you are – clear if you are hydrated, and dark in color if you are not adequately hydrated. A dry mouth & headache are also signs you may need to drink some fluids.

Rehydrating
Hydration is easy to reverse by drinking fluids. You can also eat fruit & veg that are high in water content. Drink a glass of water just before bed to get you through the night. Keep a glass of water by your bed to drink first thing in the morning.

Being slightly dehydrated is not the end of the world – apparently Haile Gebrselassie lost 10% of his body mass while setting the current marathon world record! We don’t need to keep the bottled water industry in business, but for us mere mortals every little bit counts, and I’m a big fan of hydration as an easy win. For me, a glass of water first thing in the morning and last thing before bed helps me get up easily in the morning and attack the day. If nothing else, an urgent need to go to the toilet gets me up and about quickly!

Reach for the water before that enjoying that morning cup of joe.

Chicken Livers!

On tonight’s menu is piri piri style chicken livers. I first discovered these on a trip to Cape Town, South Africa and fell in love. Combined with some fresh calamari and a gorgeous sunset, I had one of the best meals I’ve ever had…many times over the course of a week!

healthy eating for triathlon ironman triathletes nutrition balanced diet advice

It was Christmas though, so I treated myself. While generally healthy, they contain a lot of cholesterol and so should be eaten in moderation. Enjoy as a treat!

They contain loads of vitamins, in particular Vitamin A (good for vision and healthy skin) and B-12 (boosts energy levels & fights Alzheimers).

The recipe below from Epicurious uses some good spices – coriander, cumin, garlic and chilis – which have many purported health benefits. Take these benefits with a pinch of salt (but not too much!) Make sure you are using good quality butter & olive oil so as to enhance the health benefits of the ingredients as well as their flavor!

Link to recipe: Peri Peri Chicken Livers

Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

This could have been written for triathletes. Here’s a selection:

“Remember compliments you receive” – they will fuel your training.
“Stretch”.
“Be careful who’s advice you buy” – there are a lot of quacks with a lot of opinions.
“Wear sunscreen” – it’s sunny out there.
“Be kind to your knees” – rest & listen to your body.
“Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own” – more so than that $10,000 titanium bike.

The lyrics are taken from a famous essay — written in 1997 by Mary Schmich, a columnist with the Chicago Tribune — which gives some amazing advice for life. Original words here.