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Nutrition Myths, Busted: The Protein Edition

Today, I’m breaking down four nutrition myths in regards to all things protein! Read on to learn what the science has to say on plant-based protein, soy, and protein supplements.

Nutrition is a relatively new and emerging science. There is a ton of fresh information out there regarding nutrition, food, and wellness. There are also many people who deem themselves “experts” in this space who love to give advice on what you should be eating. Because of this, it can be overwhelming and confusing to dig through information to find answers to your nutrition questions. Lucky for you, that’s my job as a registered dietitian!

In the very first post of my Nutrition Myths series, I’m delving into myths surrounding all things protein. Raise your hand if you’ve heard any of these statements: Plant-based diets don’t provide enough protein. You need protein supplements after a workout. Soy protein may cause breast cancer. Collagen supplementation will improve your hair, skin, and nails. As an RD, I know I’ve heard my fair share, plus many more like them. Let’s get into the nitty gritty of these four myths, and break down the facts.

#1 – Plant-based diets don’t provide enough protein.

Greek Quinoa Salad/Plant Based Protein - nutrition myths

A balanced, well-planned vegan or vegetarian diet absolutely can provide enough protein. The key here is balanced. If you follow a plant-based diet, make sure to include plenty of plant-based protein sources in your meals and snacks daily! Some of my favorites include quinoa, legumes, and tofu.

Protein needs do vary individually, based on many factors including age, activity level, and preexisting health conditions. That said, many of us get more than enough protein each day without even trying! In general, an adequate amount of protein is 0.8-1.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day. For a 130 pound woman, that equates to 47-71 grams of protein per day. A vegan could easily hit this range by eating 1 cup of beans, 1 cup of lentils, 1 cup of quinoa, and 1 cup of tofu in a day!

Verdict: A well-planned, balanced plant-based diet provides enough protein from food sources, including legumes, beans, nuts, and soy products.

#2 – You need protein supplements after you work out.

protein powders - nutrition myths

I’m not the only one who has seen people waltzing around the gym with their shaker bottle filled with a protein drink. Protein supplements come in all different varieties these days. There’s whey protein and casein protein from milk, as well as many vegan varieties from peas, hemp, rice, and soy.

But, are these protein supplements necessary after a workout, or any time, for that matter? For a majority of people who work out regularly, the answer is no. While you should be eating a meal or snack that contains protein within an hour of exercising, choose food first before supplements to refuel. One cup of Greek yogurt, a two-egg omelet, or a 3 oz of salmon are all perfect options, as they provide 15 grams or more or protein!

Verdict: There is no need to take protein supplements for the average person who works out up to an hour a day. Protein rich foods provide enough high quality protein to support muscle repair and growth.

#3 – Soy protein heightens breast cancer risk.

Edamame - Nutrition Myths

Soy is one of the most controversial foods of our time. Soy foods include tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy protein isolate. It is low in saturated fat, contains fiber, protein, and important nutrients like calcium, iron, and potassium. Soy also contains phytochemical compounds, called isoflavones.

Soy isoflavones are phytoestrogens, which means they have a very similar structure to the hormone estrogen that our bodies produce. The skepticism revolving soy protein is largely due to these compounds and their potential effect on the body as promoting hormonal cancers, especially breast cancer. In the past, we thought that soy isoflavones bind to estrogen receptors in the same way as the estrogen hormone. We now know that they bind differently, and have different functions than estrogen (1).

The research has shown that soy consumption does not increase risk of breast cancer. Lifelong soy consumption may in fact lower the risk of breast cancer! Studies that looked at Asian women who eat soy throughout their lives have found this connection (2).

While moderate amounts of soy foods in the diet have no effect of breast cancer risk (and may decrease risk), the same cannot be said for soy protein supplements. These supplements are much higher in isoflavones than tofu, tempeh, or edamame. Right now, there is not enough research to show whether these supplements have any effect on breast cancer risk. For now, I recommend taking them in moderation, like all things in our diets.

Verdict: Moderate consumption of soy foods are safe and may actually help reduce breast cancer risk in certain populations.

#4 – Collagen supplementation will improve your hair, skin, and nails.

Collagen protein powder - nutrition myths

Collagen is one of the trendiest food products on the market these days. It’s touted for improving nail strength, hair length, reducing wrinkles, and eliminating joint pain. But what is it? Collagen is connective body tissue protein – think bones, skin. tendons and ligaments. It’s the most abundant protein in the body, making up about 30%. The collagen supplements we ingest are made from cooking the tendons, ligaments, skin, and bones of animals, then drying them into a powder form (3).

Why Collagen?

Collagen contains 19 amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. In particular, collagen includes glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. It is difficult to obtain the amino acid hydroxyproline from other protein sources. The thought is that collagen supplements, which contain hard-to-get hydroxyproline, will lead to higher endogenous collagen production. Increased collagen production is thought to improve hair, skin, and nails, as well as joint pain.

How it all Breaks Down

Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose what the amino acids do in our bodies. When we take a collagen supplement, the protein is broken down into single amino acids (or very small chains) when it is digested and absorbed. The individual amino acids may not be used for collagen production at all! Just like “spot training” doesn’t work to tone specific areas of your body, the body will prioritize where the amino acids are needed. We cannot alter this process by taking collagen supplements.

While some studies have shown beneficial results of collagen supplements on skin health and joint pain (4, 5, 6), there are no long term studies to support these results. It’s also important to note that many of the current studies have limitations, such as small sample size. Also, be sure to look at who is funding the studies you read – they are often funded by the collagen industry, which poses a conflict of interest.

Verdict: There is not enough research to show collagen supplements support endogenous collagen production, and the amino acids from collagen supplements will be used as the body needs.

I hope you guys loved reading this post about protein nutrition myths! I would love to hear what myths are on your mind, so I can break them down in another Nutrition Myths post in the future.

Let me know if you love this Nutrition Myths post by leaving a comment below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration. Thanks for stopping by!

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Image credits:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323093.php

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/whey-protein-101

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10 Easy Product Swaps and Tips for a More Sustainable Kitchen

Looking to make your home more eco-friendly? I’m sharing 10 easy tips to make your kitchen more sustainable that have worked for me!

Sustainable Kitchen

Creating a more sustainable home is one way you can reduce your carbon footprint. Since moving to Boston, I’ve made a conscious effort to live my life in a more eco-friendly way. Since I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, this was the obvious place to start for me!

Read on to learn about some easy product swaps and tips to get you started building a more sustainable kitchen!

1. Buy in Bulk

Sustainable Kitchen - Buy in Bulk

Whenever I need grains, nuts, dried fruit, or seeds for a recipe, I head to the bulk bins first. Many large grocery stores like Whole Foods and Wegman’s have extensive bulk sections for you to take advantage of. Bring a reusable container or bags to fill up. You’ll also save money by shopping the bulk section, because you can get only the amount of food you need!

2. Reusable Shoppers

Reusable Shopper - Sustainable Kitchen

One of the easiest ways to make your grocery shopping trips and kitchen more sustainable is to use reusable shopping bags. While paper bags may seem greener than plastic bags, they still have a big impact on the environment. Paper bag manufacturing takes up four times more water than that of plastic bags, and the paper used to make them is often not recycled. And because they’re heavier, paper bags use more resources to transport them (1).

You don’t even necessarily need to purchase reusable shoppers. Stores like Lululemon and Athleta give them out to hold your purchases. I use these all the time when I grocery shop, and they hold up well for months and months. Keep your reusable shoppers by the door or in your car, so you never forget them.

3. Reusable Mesh Produce Bags

Reusable Mesh Bags - Sustainable Kitchen

There is really no need to stick your produce in those thin plastic produce bags you find in rolls all over the produce section. But, I totally understand the desire to keep apples with apples and oranges with oranges. Enter reusable mesh produce bags! There are tons of brands available on Amazon, but these are the ones I use and love because they are a bit thicker. If they get a little dirty, I just throw them in the wash!

I also use these bags for things besides produce. They’re good for travel to hold toiletries, as a mini dirty laundry bag, or to hold sweaty clothing after the gym.

4. Stasher Bags

Stasher bags

I love my little collection of Stasher bags! These silicone pouches completely erased the need for plastic baggies in my kitchen. Stasher bags are durable, leak-proof, and see through, so you know exactly what you are storing. And can we talk about all the gorgeous color options they have? They’re perfect for half-used produce, snacks, and just about anything you’d use a Ziploc baggie for.

We have four or five original sized bags and 3 snack sized bags, and that is the perfect amount for our family of two. They’re also great to hold non-food items, like makeup!

5. Beeswax Wraps

Beeswax Wraps

Beeswax wraps are my second-favorite sustainable swap for food storage. They are cotton sheets coated with beeswax, which makes them pliable and easy to wrap around bowls, fruit, cheese, etc. I love to use these for more awkward-shaped items, like half of a cut melon, or something that wouldn’t fit in my Stasher bags. They’re a great alternative to plastic wrap!

6. Various Sizes Glass Jars/Storage Containers

Glass Jars

Glass containers are my favorite for storing extra dry goods. Off the top of my head, I know I have glass jars filled with leftover nuts, chia seeds, cacao powder, oats, and lentils in my kitchen right now! I prefer glass containers because they don’t hold on to odors as much as plastic Tupperware.

If you don’t have glass containers, Ball Mason jars and Weck jars are both wonderful! I also have lots of repurposed glass containers from things like peanut butter or tomato sauce that I just clean and hold onto.

7. Cloth Napkins

Cloth Napkins

This is one of my newer practices, but it’s been a super simple swap. Instead of using paper napkins with meals, I’ve been grabbing a cloth napkin or clean tea towel. Unless I spill something major, I’ll even just use the same napkin for 3-4 meals before tossing it in the laundry hamper. Stock up on a few pretty sets, so you’ll always have a clean one on hand! I love these simple linen blend ones.

8. Metal/Bamboo Straws

Bamboo Straw

You need a reusable straw for all those iced matchas or smoothies you’re making this summer! We all know paper straws suck, and they are definitely not the answer. I love these metal straws, especially in gold! I also recently got a few beautiful bamboo straws, and I think they are PERFECT for thick smoothies because they are a bit wider.

9. Reusable Cleaning Sponges

Amala cleaning sponges

I love these reusable cleaning sponges as a replacement for paper towels! They’re super sturdy and durable. When they are dirty, just toss them in the laundry to be washed. They are biodegradable, vegan, and can be washed and reused over 100 times!

10. Reduce Food Waste

Pickled Veggies

One of the simplest ways to create a more sustainable kitchen is to reduce food waste! Many of us aren’t fully aware of how much food we are wasting on a regular basis. In the United States, it’s estimated that 30-40 percent of the food supply goes to waste (2). Tossing out those less than prime berries, making something new for dinner when you have leftovers, or not using the whole vegetable are all culprits.

Some easy ways to reduce food waste are:

  • Eat your leftovers for lunch the next day
  • Cook using the whole vegetable. Roast up broccoli stalks, make pesto from carrot tops, braise beet greens…the possibilities are endless!
  • Pickle leftover vegetables. See instructions here for my favorite way to quick pickle vegetables!
  • Make a big batch of soup with wilting vegetables
  • Make berry chia jam with berries that are soft and mushy

Let me know if you love this post by leaving a comment below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration.

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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which help keep Daisybeet running. I truly love all the brands I link to, and use them frequently in my daily life!

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Why This Registered Dietitian Loves the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet has been studied extensively as one of the healthiest eating patterns in the world. Read on to find out why!

Greek quinoa salad

One of the oldest diets in the world is back with lots of media attention this year, and just as good as ever. It originated well before “dieting” was even a thing, and has been studied extensively as one of the healthiest eating patterns in the world. It’s a diet where you don’t have to count calories or macros, don’t have to drink detox green juice, and you can eat CARBS! Enter the Mediterranean Diet, one of my favorite patterns of eating.

What makes the Mediterranean diet so great and well loved by health professionals? Firstly, this diet is widely touted for its researched health benefits. It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by helping to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke. Some research also shows an association between the Mediterranean diet and reduced risk of certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

A Lifestyle, Not a Diet

The Mediterranean diet is not so much a “diet”, rather it is a lifestyle pattern of eating. When we hear the word “diet”, we often consider it a quick fix. We’ll “go on a diet” when we want to lose weight for a beach vacation, slim down for a big event, or get back on track after a few months of indulgent eating.

Diets are typically seen as a variance from our norm, and are so restrictive that we cannot realistically keep up with them for more than a few months. They often eliminate whole food groups which contain necessary nutrients our bodies need. Many of us get trapped in the cycle of “yo-yo dieting” – trying the latest fad diet, inevitably falling off the wagon, then trying to pick up another fad diet a few months later when we still don’t see results.

This is why diets don’t work. In order to see long term results, the way you eat must be a sustainable pattern you can seamlessly incorporate into your lifestyle. The Mediterranean diet is the perfect place to start if you are trying to make a lasting dietary lifestyle change!

Why The Mediterranean Diet Works

  • It’s not restrictive. You can enjoy foods from ALL food groups (including wine)! This means you are getting important nutrients other diets are lacking, like fiber, omega-3s, vitamins and minerals.
  • It emphasizes fresh, whole foods. The Mediterranean diet encourages you to eat lots of veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes, lean proteins and healthy fats. When combined into a balanced meal, these foods keep us full and satisfied.
  • It’s simple an inexpensive. You won’t be required to purchase expensive, fancy superfoods, powders or supplements on this diet. It encourages eating some of the most humble, inexpensive foods you can buy in the grocery store, like grains and lentils.
  • It incorporates joy and pleasure into eating. The Mediterranean diet encourages being social and present while enjoying our meals. It is good practice to turn off our screens, put on some soothing music and enjoy a meal together with friends and family. Lifestyle changes become so much easier when our support system is involved!
Greek quinoa salad - the mediterranean diet

What to Eat on The Mediterranean Diet

So, what will you eat when following a Mediterranean diet? The bulk of your meals will come from vegetables, fruits and whole grains. You’ll choose legumes, nuts, fish and seafood as your main sources of protein, followed by poultry and eggs, and choosing red meat occasionally. Season your foods with fresh herbs, spices, lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar. Consume dairy like plain yogurt and cheese in moderation daily. Water is your drink of choice, and enjoy a glass of red wine in moderation!

As you can see, there are very little foods you avoid by following this eating pattern. Compare that to Keto, the Atkin’s Diet, Whole30, etc. Easy, right? The Mediterranean diet largely takes the guesswork out of eating well. When your plate is filled with veggies, whole grains, and legumes, it’s hard to get it wrong!

Mediterranean Diet Recipes to Try

Here are some of my favorite, simple Mediterranean Diet recipes. Give one a try for dinner tonight!

Greek quinoa salad
Halloumi salad
Pasta salad with roasted vegetables and tuna - the mediterranean diet
Shrimp scampi zoodles and noodles the Mediterranean diet
the Almond Eater Mediterranean Stuffed Zucchini Boats
The Mediterranean Dish Zucchini Salad

Let me know if you love this post by leaving a comment below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration.

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plant-based protein sources Featured

10 Plant-Based Protein Sources to Add to Your Diet

Want to eat more plant-based? Find out some of the best plant-based protein sources you should be eating regularly for good health.

kale caesar salad plant based protein sources

One of the greatest misconceptions in the nutrition world is that plant-based diets do not provide enough protein. As an RD, I’ve heard this time and time again. But, a well-planned and thoughtful vegetarian or vegan diet can provide all the nutrients we need for good health, including protein from plant-based protein sources.

Benefits of A Plant-Based Diet

Nutrition research has consistently pointed to a plant-based diet to provide numerous health benefits. Whether you’re vegan or just experimenting with Meatless Monday, we can all benefit from eating more plants! Here are a few of the amazing health benefits of a plant-based diet:

  • Decreased risk of chronic disease, including heart disease, stroke, hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, and some cancers (1)
  • Promotes weight management, prevention of overweight/obesity, and beneficial for weight loss (2)
  • Lower environmental impact than a diet that includes lots of animal protein

Plant-Based Protein Sources

Protein is an important macronutrient, as it is the building block for body tissue. Our protein needs vary by individual based on age, activity level, health status, etc. Including a variety of the following foods in your diet daily will meet the protein needs of most people, with the added health benefits of these ingredients!

Beans

roasted chickpeas

Beans of all kinds – black, kidney, chickpea, etc. – are one of the world’s healthiest foods. They are a starchy protein, as they also contain some carbohydrates. Because of this, beans are a great source of dietary fiber. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals, including iron!

Protein in Beans: 15 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Beans to Your Diet:

Lentils

coconut curry red lentil soup

Lentils are similar to beans, in that they are also a starchy protein source. One cup of lentils has a whopping 16 grams of dietary fiber! Lentils have a hearty texture that holds up well as a replacement for meat in dishes like stews and sauces.

Red lentils tend to break apart when cooked, so they are great in soups and stews. Green, black, and French lentils will hold their shape when cooked.

Protein in Lentils: 18 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Lentils to Your Diet:

Peas

peas plant-based protein sources

Peas are a versatile ingredient that have plenty of plant-based protein. They are similar to beans and lentils in that they also contain carbohydrates, and therefore fiber. Also, peas contain good amounts of several vitamins and minerals, notably vitamins A, C, K, and B-vitamins.

Protein in Peas: 8 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Peas to Your Diet:

Tofu, Tempeh, and Edamame

crispy baked tofu

Tofu, tempeh, and edamame are all foods coming from the soybean. Edamame is immature soy bean, and tofu and tempeh are products made from soy. In many Asian cultures, soy is a staple protein source.

For years, there has been swirling controversy around the safety of soy in our diets, but the research has consistently shown that soy is safe and very healthy for us.

Protein in Tofu, Tempeh, and Edamame: 20 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Tofu/Tempeh/Edamame to Your Diet:

Quinoa

quinoa plant based protein sources

Quinoa is technically a seed, but it tastes, cooks and acts like a grain. Unlike other grains though, quinoa is a good source of protein. Not only that, quinoa has all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. This sets quinoa apart from other plant-based protein sources!

Protein in Quinoa: 8 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Quinoa to Your Diet:

Nuts

popcorn trail mix

Almonds, walnuts, macadamia, pistachios, and more are nutrition powerhouses. They are rich in energy, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and protein. Nuts are one of my favorite on-the-go snacks to have on hand.

Protein in Nuts: 5 grams per 1/4th cup

How to Add Nuts to Your Diet:

  • Make popcorn trail mix for a healthy and filling snack (pictured above)
  • Add a dollop of nut butter to oatmeal or smoothie bowls
  • Sprinkle nuts on top of salad for a crunchy addition
  • Add nuts to homemade granola
  • Make your own mixed nut butter

Seeds

seeds

Like nuts, seeds contain an abundance of heart healthy fats. They’re also good sources of minerals, like calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and copper. Some seeds to add to your diet include sesame, pumpkin, and flax.

Protein in Seeds: 10 grams in 1/4th cup

How to Add Seeds to Your Diet:

  • Sprinkle seeds on top of salads and grain bowls, such as on this Asian Cucumber Salad
  • Try using tahini in baked goods: these Tahini Brownies and Tahini Cookies by Kale Junkie are delicious!
  • If you bake your own bread, experiment with adding seeds to the dough for a hearty texture
  • Top yogurt or oatmeal bowls with pumpkin seeds

Chia Seeds

chia seeds plant-based protein sources

Chia is a seed, but it gets its own category! Chia seeds are a good plant-based source of iron and calcium. What makes them extra special is they are a good plant-based source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. We can’t produce these on our own, so it is important we get adequate amounts in our diet. So, since omega-3 fatty acids are mainly found in animal products, chia seeds are a great way to get these good fats if you are following a plant-based diet.

Protein in Chia Seeds: 5 grams in 1 ounce

How to Add Chia Seeds to Your Diet:

  • Try chia pudding for breakfast
  • Add a spoonful to your oatmeal
  • Make easy two ingredient chia jam
  • Bake some into homemade granola

Hemp

Hemp hearts are another good source of plant-based protein. Just like chia, they are rich in heart healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. Similar to quinoa, hemp is a complete protein, as it contains all nine essential amino acids.

Protein in Hemp: 6 grams in 2 tablespoons

How to Add Hemp to Your Diet:

  • Sprinkle hemp hearts over your morning oatmeal or yogurt bowl. They have a mild, nutty flavor.
  • Try hemp protein powder in your smoothies
  • Make this hemp seed pesto by Walder Wellness
  • Add hemp to cookies or baked goods

Nutritional Yeast

nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast is an inactive form of yeast, and is sold in flaked form. It is full of nutrition benefits, including B-vitamins and protein. In fact, it’s one of the only plant-based sources of Vitamin B12. Like quinoa and hemp, nutritional yeast contains all nine essential amino acids, making it another plant-based complete protein source.

Nutritional yeast has a savory, cheesy flavor that is delicious in pasta dishes!

Protein in Nutritional Yeast: 10 grams in 2 tablespoons

How to Add Nutritional Yeast to Your Diet:

  • Sprinkle over popcorn for a cheesy flavor, from Nutrition Stripped
  • Add to pasta dishes as a vegan replacement for parmesan cheese
  • Make a vegan Butternut Squash Risotto from Simple Vegan Blog

There you have it! As you can see, these delicious plant-based protein sources are full of other amazing nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Have you tried them all?

Let me know if you love this post by leaving a comment below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration.

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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which help keep Daisybeet running. I truly love all the brands I link to, and use them frequently in my daily life!

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What to Eat Before and After A Workout

As a Registered Dietitian, I am often questioned what to eat before and after a workout. This post outlines everything you need to know about properly fueling your body for athletic performance, and how to replenish after you’ve put in the work.

Hiking for Exericse

Nutrition is one piece of the healthy lifestyle puzzle, but so is exercise. No matter what activity you choose to do, it’s important to just move your body in any way that makes you feel good.

The current physical activity guidelines for healthy adults are 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 to 150 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activity (1). At the very least, we should be moving our butts for 30 minutes, five days per week for health benefits!

Proper nutrition is essential to help our bodies reach peak performance during exercise and to replenish afterwards. I recommend choosing real, whole foods over supplements whenever possible, because they are more filling, more satisfying, and taste better! Eating properly before and after a workout will make your workouts more effective, help prevent fatigue and injury, and allow you to continue pushing yourself to reach new fitness goals.

What to Eat Before a Workout

There are a few things to consider regarding pre-workout nutrition. First, we need to think about the macronutrient composition of our meal. It’s also important to consider the timing of our pre-workout meal or snack to prevent cramping or bloating during exercise.

Macronutrients: Carbohydrates are Key

Our bodies do not produce energy on their own. We must obtain all our energy from the food we eat. Carbohydrates are definitely the preferred source of energy! Our bodies quickly break them down into glucose, which feeds our cells as energy. We also store glucose in the form of glycogen in our liver and muscles, which the body will tap into once glucose stores are depleted during activity. (2).

It is important to consume a meal or snack predominately coming from carbohydrates before a workout. But, it is also key to include a small amount of protein, especially for weight lifting!

When we exercise, our muscles experience small microtears. These tears must be repaired by protein in order to create bigger and stronger muscles. So, including some protein in your pre-workout meal or snack gives your muscles a bit of a head start to repair and grow.

Choose easily digestible sources of carbohydrates and protein before a workout. Avoid heavy meals, anything fried or very fatty, or foods that tend to make you bloated or gassy, like beans. That way, your body won’t be tied up in the digestive process and it can focus on the work.

Timing

Giving your body the proper fuel means nothing if you don’t time it right. Eating too far away or too close to a workout won’t give you the benefits of the nutrients you consumed.

As a rule of thumb, wait at least 30 minutes after eating before exercising, and don’t go much longer than three hours between eating and working out. Try to have a carbohydrate rich snack if you’re exercising between 30 minutes to one hour. You can also have a meal that includes plenty of carbohydrates two to three hours before working out.

My one exception to this rule is if you can’t stand the thought of eating something before your 6 AM workout. There may even be some benefits to exercising after an overnight fast (3). If this is the case for you, just make sure you are prioritizing your post-workout nutrition! FYI, you still need to have water if you’re exercising on an overnight fast.

Pre-Workout Meal and Snack Ideas

If you are exercising in two to three hours, consider having one of these meals:

  • One cup of oatmeal with fresh fruit and peanut butter
  • Two egg veggie omelet with whole wheat toast, sliced avocado, and a side of berries
  • Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and granola
  • Almond butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • Brown rice, roasted vegetables and lean protein of choice
  • Whole wheat pasta with roasted vegetables and tuna
  • Smoothie with unsweetened almond milk, peanut butter, frozen banana, and blueberries

If you’ll be working out in closer to 30 minutes to two hours, choose a snack:

  • Rice cake with peanut butter and banana slices
  • Apple nachos
  • A banana with almond butter
  • Handful of trail mix that includes nuts and dried fruit
  • One or two energy balls
  • Granola bar: I like RX bar, Larabar, 88 Acres, KIND bars, and Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal Bars
apple nachos

What to Eat After a Workout

It is essential to eat after a workout. We need to replenish the glycogen stores we depleted during exercise, and provide our muscles with the protein building blocks to repair themselves and grow stronger.

Refueling properly after a workout helps you avoid fatigue and revs up the recovery process. Then, you can hit the gym again strong to keep meeting your fitness goals!

Macronutrients: Carbohydrates and Protein

We need carbohydrates after a workout because we used up all the energy from the ones we ate before exercise. We also tapped into the glycogen stores in our muscles. Complex carbohydrates are best because they come with fiber and other nutrients that are beneficial for our health. Think whole wheat bread, quinoa, or sweet potatoes versus processed carbohydrates.

You’ll also want to eat a substantial amount of protein after a workout. We want to give our muscles the building blocks to repair themselves while we rest. Try to get at least 10-20 grams of protein after working out. You may need more protein depending on gender, body size, and activity level. For example, strength athletes need 1.2-1.7 grams of protein/kg body weight, compared to 0.8-1.0 grams of protein/kg for the general population.

Timing

The timing of when you consume your carbohydrates and protein post-workout matters, but maybe less so than we once thought. White traditional recommendations say to eat within 30 minutes of exercise, the window or opportunity might actually be wider. One study showed that eating protein immediately to three hours after a workout increases muscle protein synthesis. Combining protein with carbohydrates after a workout may lead to even bigger muscular gains (4).

Another study showed that, depending on the timing and composition of a pre-workout meal, the window for ingesting protein after a workout may be several hours long (5). So, if your pre-workout meal contains adequate protein, you may experience similar muscle protein synthesis changes to someone waiting until after their workout to ingest protein.

Eating after a workout goes beyond just stimulating muscle growth, though. It prevents fatigue, gives us back the energy we used up, and replenishes glycogen stores. Because of this, I recommend eating a meal or snack within one hour of exercising.

Post-Workout Meal and Snack Ideas

Don’t Forget to Hydrate

Make sure to drink water before, during, and after your workout. The amount of water you need depends on the temperature you’re working out in and the intensity of the exercise. You’d obviously need more water working out in a hot or humid climate. The goal of hydration is to replace the fluid lost when we sweat. Here are general hydration guidelines:

  • Consume 14-22 oz two hours before exercise
  • Drink 6-12 oz of water for every 15-20 minutes of exercise
  • Drink 16-24 oz of water for every pound of body weight lost in sweat after exercise

Water is the best choice, but if you are exercising and sweating a lot for over an hour, a sports drink is a good choice to also replace the electrolytes lost in sweat (2).

Every Body is Different

This post is meant to serve as a general guideline for what to eat before and after a workout. These guidelines may vary individually based on gender, body size, type of exercise, age, and many other variables. Listen to your body to decide what’s best for you!

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Health Benefits of a High Fiber Diet + High Fiber Foods to Eat Today

Fiber is one of the most important nutrients to consume. Learn all about the health benefits of dietary fiber and the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber in today’s post, including a list of delicious foods to include in a high fiber diet!

Fiber is one of the most important nutrients for our diet, but it does not get the attention it deserves. Fiber is certainly less glamorous than other trendy nutrients, as it might evoke images of your grandparents sipping on metamucil. But, the benefits of fiber go so beyond keeping us regular! I’m all in for making fiber the coolest nutrient, and I hope you will be too after reading this post.

What is Dietary Fiber?

Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of plants that we consume when we eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Unlike the macro and micronutrients, our bodies are unable to digest and absorb fiber, so it passes through our digestive system intact.

Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber

There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. They each have unique health benefits. A high fiber diet should include sources of both types to get maximum benefits.

  • Soluble fiber dissolves in water, so it forms a gel in our digestive tract when we eat it. Because of this, it can bind to cholesterol in our bodies to help lower cholesterol levels. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, beans, flaxseeds, barley, and apples.
  • Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, so it speeds up digestion and increases stool bulk. Good sources of insoluble fiber include nuts, cauliflower, whole wheat products, Brussels sprouts, and raspberries.

Health Benefits of a High Fiber Diet

  • Keeps us regular. Fiber, especially insoluble fiber, speeds up digestion and increases stool bulk. This helps prevent constipation and diarrhea to keep our bowels healthy and regular.
  • Weight management. High fiber foods are very filling, and lower in calories than other foods. Including many high fiber foods in our diets can promote healthy weight management.
  • Lower cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber forms a gel like substance in our bodies, which binds to “bad” LDL cholesterol to rid it from our bodies. Soluble fiber may also help improve other lipid markers (1).
  • Controls blood sugar levels. Fiber, especially soluble fiber, helps slow the absorption of blood sugar when we eat. Studies show that soluble fiber intake can reduce HbA1C, fasting blood glucose, and insulin resistance in people with Type 2 Diabetes (2).
  • Promotes gut health. The good bacteria that live in our guts depend on fermentable dietary products as a source of energy so they can be healthy and grow. Fiber from our diets feeds these good bacteria, so a high fiber diet promotes probiotic health, abundance, and diversity. Healthy gut bacteria also produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have their own health benefits such as reduced inflammation and reduced risk of chronic disease (3).
  • Reduced risk of chronic disease. High fiber diets are naturally high in plant foods, so they also come with lots of other amazing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help prevent chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and Type 2 Diabetes.

Dietary Fiber Recommendations

The dietary fiber recommendations are 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. For women and men over 50, these numbers drop to 21 grams and 30 grams, respectively. For reference, one half cup of black beans has about 8 grams of fiber, one cup of shredded wheat contains about 5 grams, and one half cup of raspberries has 4 grams (4). As you can see, you need to eat multiple portions of fiber rich foods (i.e. plant foods) throughout the day to meet the recommendations.

One reason why many Americans are not meeting their daily fiber needs is because the standard American diet is low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. There are plenty of fiber supplements out there, but they are devoid of many of the other health benefits that come with plant foods, like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, fiber from supplements may not be as filling as fiber from plant foods.

High Fiber Foods to Add to Your Diet

Now, the fun part! This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are some of my favorite high fiber foods to enjoy daily. There are also some yummy recipes to give you inspiration to add more fiber to your diet!

Oatmeal

Contains 4 grams of fiber per 1 cup cooked oats. Try this Cacao Banana Oatmeal or Banana Baked Oatmeal with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips for an easy breakfast!

cacao banana oatmeal

Quinoa

Quinoa contains 2.6 grams of fiber per half cup. These Quinoa Enchilada Stuffed Peppers or this Moroccan Quinoa Salad from Choosing Chia would be perfect to add to your dinner menu!

quinoa stuffed peppers

Whole Wheat Pasta

Swap out white pasta for whole wheat, and you’ll get 3.2 grams of fiber per half cup serving! Some of my favorite whole wheat pasta dishes are this Spring Pasta with Lemon, Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Peas, and this Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Tuna.

high fiber diet pasta salad

Kale

One cup of kale has 2.6 grams of fiber. Even more reason to keep up your kale caesar habit! Check out this dairy free version, this Kale Cobb Salad from Dishing out Health, and this Rose Pasta with Asparagus and Kale from The First Mess to get your kale on!

kale caesar salad

Sweet Potato

One medium sweet potato has almost 4 grams of fiber. Make sure you’re eating the skin, though, as this is where most of the fiber (and other nutrients) lives! These Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes are a favorite of mine, and I’ve been dying to try these Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges by Mad About Food!

mexican stuffed sweet potato high fiber diet

Chickpeas

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are an excellent source of plant based protein and fiber. One half cup contains 8 grams! Fill up on this Chickpea and Roasted Vegetable Salad, Loaded Greek Hummus for a Crowd, or Chickpea and Avocado Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.

chickpea and roasted vegetable salad

Black Beans

Black beans pack 7.5 grams of fiber per one half cup. Try out this delicious mango avocado salsa over my Mushroom Tacos, or this Black Bean Tomato Avocado Salad by Little Spice Jar.

mango avocado black bean salsa

White Beans

Are you guys picking up on a bean trend here? White beans are also a good source of fiber. One half cup will give you 5.7 grams! I love to make this Dreamy Pink Beet and White Bean Dip for dipping, and this Tuscan White Bean and Kale Soup from Kristine’s Kitchen sounds so cozy.

white bean dip

Lentils

I love lentils of all kinds. One half cup has almost 8 grams of fiber. This Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup is one of my favorites. Also, check out this Lemony Lentil Soup by Gimme Some Oven.

coconut curry red lentil soup

Apples

One medium apple has about 4.5 grams of fiber. I love to put sautéed apples in my morning oatmeal and munch on apple nachos as a healthy snack.

apple nachos

Pears

Pears have even more fiber than apples. One pear has almost 6 grams of fiber! Some of my favorite pear recipes are Hasselback Baked Pears and Ginger Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes, and Pears.

hasselback baked pear

Chia Seeds

Last but not least, chia seeds are a really excellent dietary fiber source. One tablespoon has a 4 grams! Try this Blended Chocolate Chia Pudding or this Dreamy Coconut Chia Pudding with Blueberries from The Wooden Skillet.

chocolate chia pudding

High fiber diets are super healthy, because as you can see, they include lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. If you’re increasing your fiber intake, make sure to also drink plenty of water, because fiber digests better with water. What is your favorite way to get more fiber in your diet?

Let me know if you love this post by leaving a comment below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration.

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Shrimp Scampi Zoodles and Noodles (Gluten Free)

This shrimp scampi zoodles and noodles recipe is the perfect light and easy pasta dish. It’s full of fresh summer flavors like basil, lemon, garlic, and zucchini. This recipe takes 30 minutes to make and will please everyone!

shrimp scampi zoodles and noodles

This recipe is a twist on classic shrimp scampi. It still has tons of garlic flavor plus lemon and white wine, but it’s paired with fresh summer basil and served over a combination of pasta and zucchini noodles (zoodles).

Zucchini noodles are a great addition to your diet if you are looking to eat more vegetables. I love to add them to whole wheat or brown rice pasta to add volume, fiber, and nutrients to some of my favorite recipes. They pair really well with spaghetti because the noodles and zoodles all get tangled up together!

shrimp scampi zoodles

How to Make Zucchini Noodles

There are a few methods you can use to make zucchini noodles, depending on which kitchen tools you have.

  • Vegetable spiralizer machine. Just cut off the ends of the zucchini and push it through the machine This method allows you to also spiralize other vegetables, including harder ones like sweet potato. You can also make different sized noodles! But, it takes up a lot of cabinet space, and is a little difficult to clean.
  • Handheld spiralizer. This tool is a little cheaper and takes up less room than the tabletop vegetable spiralizer. It’s a great option to purchase if you have a small kitchen or are new to spiralizing! You won’t be able to spiralize as many types of produce with this option, though.
  • KitchenAid mixer attachment. If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, you can purchase this attachment to make zucchini and other vegetable noodles! It’s more expensive than other options, but will take up less room than the full spiralizer machine.
  • Julienne peeler. This method is the most simple and requires just a simple julienne peeler. While your zucchini noodles won’t be as long and stringy, the julienne peeler method will give you thin strips of zucchini to add to your meals.
zucchini noodles

Once your zoodles are prepared, all you need to do is cook your pasta and shrimp. The shrimp is sautéed right from frozen with plenty of garlic, fresh lemon juice, and white wine for that classic shrimp scampi flavor. When the shrimp is done, toss the pasta and zoodles in the pan to coat everything in the scampi sauce, and serve!

Main Ingredients + Some Nutrition Notes

  • Zucchini: Zucchini is a super hydrating vegetable – it is made of over 90% water! It’s also a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Just like all veggies, it’s packed with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Shrimp: Shrimp is a high quality source of lean protein – one 3 oz serving has 18 grams! Shrimp is also one of the best food sources of iodine, which is a nutrient essential for thyroid health. While shrimp is high in cholesterol, it will not greatly affect body cholesterol levels, because it is low in saturated fat.
  • Garlic: Garlic has been used for medicinal purposes for ages. It contains sulfur compounds, which may help prevent and lessen the severity of illnesses like the flu or a cold. It also contains antioxidants that may promote brain health and prevent dementia.
  • Lemon
  • White Wine
  • Olive Oil
  • Brown Rice Pasta
shrimp scamp zoodles and noodles

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Shrimp Scampi Zoodles and Noodles (Gluten Free)

  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 3 1x
  • Category: Main Dish

Description

This shrimp scampi zoodles and noodles recipe is the perfect light and easy pasta dish. It is full of fresh summer flavors like basil, lemon, garlic, and zucchini. This recipe takes 30 minutes to make and will please everyone!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 16 large frozen shrimp
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 pound brown rice or whole wheat spaghetti 
  • 2 large zucchinis, spiralized
  • 1 large handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large skillet.
  2. Add garlic, shallots, and salt and pepper to taste, cooking 1-2 minutes until fragrant, stirring and being careful not to burn.
  3. Add shrimp to the pan in an even layer. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side until pink and opaque. 
  4.  Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and white wine. Simmer shrimp in wine until it has reduced by half.
  5. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. 
  6. Reduce pan with shrimp to low heat, and toss in zoodles until they start to soften, about 1 minute. 
  7. Remove from heat and toss in cooked pasta, using tongs to evenly coat each strand.
  8. Serve immediately, and garnish with plenty of fresh basil, red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese. 

Keywords: healthy shrimp scampi, shrimp scampi zoodles, zoodles, zucchini noodles, gluten free

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