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    Peak8Fitness + Nutrition Blog

    Nutrition

January 26, 2016

Feeling Under the Weather? Here’s What You Should Be Eating

under the weatherWhile comfort food might be at the top of your list if your body is feeling a little sluggish and under the weather, that probably won’t aid in your recovery or help you jump out of bed any quicker. Even if a stomach bug has you disgusted by the mere mention of food, there are things you can consume in order to put yourself on the fast track to wellness. Or at least slow the decline into feeling even worse.

Next time you find yourself with a cold, stomachache, or worse – like the flu – try incorporating a few of these healthier options into your limited diet.

First things first: Don’t limit calorie intake

You might think a queasy stomach or overall lack of appetite is your body’s way of telling you to limit your food intake, but that’s not actually what’s best for your recovery process. In fact, your body actually needs more calories to combat illness than it normally would.

According to Douglas Kalman, Ph.D., RD, “…for every degree your body temperature is elevated, your metabolic rate is stimulated (or elevated) by seven percent. So one of the worst things to do if you have a fever is not eating, as your body needs the fuel to support the immune system.”

If you can’t manage to put a full meal down, eat smaller amounts – but stick to a regular schedule. This while ensure your body stays fueled while fighting off illness.

Really can’t put food down? Concentrate on your liquids.

As you probably learned from your mother, one of the keys to getting back to health is consuming plenty of liquids. This can be a lifesaver if consuming food just isn’t much of a possibility.

Hot Tea

Aside from being a comfort when you’re suffering from a cold, drinking hot, decaffeinated green or black tea can help in other ways – it has natural bacteria-fighting compounds to ward off infections, and contains the antioxidant L-theanine to boost immunity. Chamomile and ginger tea can also help soothe an upset stomach.

Fruit or Vegetable Juice

Juice can be particularly helpful if you need to consume nutrients but would rather not eat. Drinking your fruits and veggies will help your body restore electrolytes and keep you from feeling even worse from low calorie-intake. Just be aware that citrusy juices – like orange juice – while great for a cold, might prove too irritating for your stomach.

Coconut Water

Another great beverage option when your body is low on electrolytes and needs hydration is coconut water.

One more alternative to try: popsicles. As long as you buy those that are made from 100% real fruit, you can bring in some nutrients while continuing to stay hydrated.

Cold symptoms? Try these foods.

Fruits (oranges, papaya, strawberries, grapefruit)

Stock up on fruits that are high in Vitamin C and you might just decrease the length of time your cold sticks around. In addition, fruits like oranges and grapefruit have flavonoids that can give your immune system an extra boost.

Broth-based soups

Yes, that chicken soup isn’t just comforting, it’s actually good for you. Cysteine, the amino acid found in the chicken, can thin the mucus in your lungs and the broth can help you hydrate. Just make sure the soup you buy is low in sodium.

Veggies (red and green bell peppers, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts)

Did you know that each of these veggies contain more Vitamin C than oranges? Kale and broccoli are also known to contain Glutathione – an antioxidant that helps fight off infection.

Upset stomach? Try these instead.

Bananas

If you’ve been getting sick, your body is likely dehydrated. The potassium in bananas can help with this, while also giving your body a calorie boost from natural sugars.

Starchy foods (rice, potatoes, oats)

These foods will help coat your stomach and won’t sit there long enough to create discomfort. The key here is to keep them as bland as possible.

Toast

Just like your starchy foods, bread won’t cause acid reflux and is much easier to digest than other foods that are high in fat. Again, it might not taste the greatest, but opt for the bread without all the spreads.

Ginger

Although there isn’t scientific data to back up this claim, ginger has long been touted as a way to quiet an upset stomach. Most people don’t want to gnaw on ginger root, so you might want to go for some ginger tea instead.

January 12, 2016

5 Apps to Help You Keep Your 2016 Nutrition Goals In Check

Food is a complicated matter. From portion sizes to meal makeup, it can seem virtually impossible to give your body exactly what it needs to reach your fitness goals or to simply live a healthier, more balanced life.

Luckily, there are plenty of apps that can not only help you track what you’re taking in, but help you better understand how food is (or isn’t) serving you.

Here are a few to check out today.

Fooducate
(iOS, Android)
FREE

Eating healthy is hard enough without having to decipher complicated nutrition labels. Fooducate will actually tell you what is in the foods you purchase by simply scanning the item’s bar code, allowing you to determine quality of calories, not just quantity. Users report being able to better understand how to eat healthy after using this app instead of simply sticking to calorie counting.

Macros+
(iOS, Android)
$2.99

While plenty of apps have a nutritionist seal of approval, Macros+ was created by a fitness professional so you can be sure it will compliment your workout goals. Track your food intake, set nutrition goals based on things like carb cycling or workout vs. rest day, and get a better understanding of where your diet is lacking (proteins, carbs, etc.).

MyNetDiary
(iOS, Android)
$3.99

MyNetDiary is a one-stop shop for everything from diet and exercise tracking to monitoring diabetes and other health conditions. This app will allow you to keep a close watch over calorie intake and calorie burn, alerting you to your remaining balance based on your nutrition goals. Keep track of your body measurements and adjust your plan based on the results you’d like to see.

HealthyOut
(iOS, Android)
FREE

Eating at home where portion sizes can be regulated and food content controlled is relatively easy – it’s eating at restaurants that can be extremely challenging. Enter EatingOut. This app will allow you to select nutrition parameters (e.g. gluten free, low carb, high protein) and find restaurants around you with relevant meal options. You can also view full nutrition facts and more.

Water Alert
(iOS)
FREE

We all know we should drink more water, but it’s remembering throughout the day that’s the issue. Water Alert finds a solution to this common problem by sending alerts in pre-designated intervals to remind you to drink water. You can also set and monitor daily water intake goals and customize the size of bottle for more accurate measuring.

December 8, 2015

12 Delicious, Healthy (or Healthier) Recipes for Holiday Parties

The holidays are the time for packing on a few pounds, right?

While this might be the general consensus across the United States, gaining ten pounds over the holidays doesn’t have to be the norm. And no, this doesn’t mean you have to bow out of every office party or family get together.

Peak8Fitness is all about taking the recipes you love and making small changes so they are still delicious, but much kinder to your body and waistline. With that philosophy in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some great holiday recipes that don’t come with ten pounds worth of guilt attached.

Appetizers:

Coconut Shrimp with Thai Chili Ginger Sauce via JoyfulHealthyEats
Who doesn’t like shrimp appetizers at a party?! This dish uses coconut flakes for added, healthy flavor.

Kalamata Olive & Goat Cheese Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes via TastyYummies
If you’re pinched for time, this recipe is the perfect solution. And if you aren’t an olive person, you have the option of leaving those out without sacrificing taste.

Southwestern Sweet Potato Rounds via ACedarSpoon
This unique recipe packs big taste – think tomato, black beans, cilantro, jalapeno — onto a small slice of sweet potato. Great idea, right?

Prosciutto Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates via Jeanette’sHealthyLiving
This already sounds amazing, but if you’d like to try something besides dates, the recipe suggests dried figs or apricots. Yum.

Desserts:

Chocolate Fudge Yogurt Cookies via GiveRecipe
This recipe takes out the butter and oil and replaces it with Greek yogurt, but there’s enough chocolate to mask the tangy taste. Plus, they look incredibly rich and decadent.

Prosecco-Soaked Chocolate Covered Strawberries via EveryDayMaven
Simplistic elegance – that’s what chocolate covered strawberries are. This easy recipe uses coconut milk as a substitute and looks absolutely amazing.

Skinny Holiday Fruit Crisp via SavoryNothings
If this recipe sounds entirely too healthy to cater to everyone’s holiday sweet tooth, go check out the picture. It looks absolutely delicious even if the ingredients are a little healthier.

Poached Pomegranate Spice Pears via Jeanette’sHealthyLiving
This recipe is extremely easy and hands-off, but you will need a rice cooker. Check out the author’s presentation if you want to serve these at your party – she nailed it.

Cocktails:

The Golden Apple via Health.com
If apple is your thing, this cocktail is simple, not too heavy, and definitely refreshing. Think sparkling apple cider with a kick.

Blood Orange Sangria via CookingLight
The presentation of this drink works perfect for any holiday set up. And, if you don’t have blood oranges on hand, navel oranges can work as a substitute.

Spiked Eggnog via CookingLight
Eggnog will never be the most figure-friendly cocktail, but if it’s part of your holiday tradition and you’d like to drink slightly more responsibly, try this recipe instead.

Peppermint Cosmo via Self
For peppermint fans this cocktail is pretty much as light as they come and only has 7 grams of sugar — including the candy cane garnish.

November 3, 2015

Hydration 101: How to Get Hydrated and Stay Hydrated (and Why It Even Matters)

How many times have you been told the importance of staying hydrated for your overall health and wellbeing? Likely so much that this piece of information seems more like common sense than complicated scientific fact.

But why is water vital for everything from illness recovery to sports performance? And how can you make sure you’re actually reaching those hydration benchmarks? Here are some things to think about the next time you reach for a glass of water or feel yourself getting a little parched.

Fitness and Why Hydration Matters

If you want to make your workout harder than it already is, by all means, forget hydration altogether. Doesn’t sound good, does it?

Our bodies are composed of 70% water, so it goes without saying that it is vitally important to virtually every bodily process. Even being slightly dehydrated can slow the production of energy producing enzymes, which in turn can decrease your metabolism.

In addition, water helps prevent muscle cramping, lubricates your joints and regulates your temperature – all necessary things when you’re working out.

How to Know if You’re Properly Hydrated

Most of us are familiar with the basic guideline of consuming eight glasses of water a day. The truth is, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to staying hydrated – the numbers can vary drastically depending on your health, the climate you live in, and how active you are.

According to the Mayo Clinic, if you exercise (especially exercise that makes you sweat), you should be consuming an additional 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water or more depending on the intensity. In addition, living in a hot or humid climate, or in a location that is above 8,200 feet, you’ll likely need to consume more water. Illness or pregnancy can also require additional hydration.

If you want to keep a guideline in mind, try drinking between a half an ounce to an ounce of water for every pound that you weigh.

Tips for Staying Hydrated

Most people who aren’t properly hydrated simply haven’t established a habit of drinking water throughout the day. If this sounds like you, try utilizing some of these tips:

  • Keep a water glass by your bed so you remember to begin and end each day with a large glass of water.
  • Set an alarm to go off at regular intervals as a water break reminder.
  • Check out apps like Waterlogged to help track your water intake.
  • Mark your water bottle with water goals to reach at specific times throughout the day.
  • Consume raw fruits and veggies that have a high water content: cucumber, watermelon, tomatoes, strawberries, etc.

Not a Water Drinker? Try These Alternatives 

If you want something a little bit more exciting than plain ol’ water, there are plenty of (healthy) alternatives – like these delicious, make-at-home fruit infused waters.

Raspberry & Lime Infused Water

Blueberry Raspberry Infused Water

Strawberry Mint Infused Water

Tomato Basil Infused Water

Apple Cinnamon Infused Water

Another great alternative (although not quite as inexpensive) are La Croix drinks. Available in a wide variety of flavors, these drinks are free of both sodium and sugar and can serve as an excellent alternative to sodas and sugary fruit drinks.

September 29, 2015

Hemp Hearts: The Superfood You Need to Know About

When I’m asked to create a meal plan for clients, there are a few ingredients I always add. These are the items that can benefit anyone – regardless of their end goal.

At the top of that list is something called hemp hearts.

Haven’t heard of them? You aren’t alone. Unless you frequent health food stores or already subscribe to a healthy eating plan, they probably haven’t found their way into your diet.

Hemp hearts – also referred to as shelled hemp seeds — are considered by some to be the most nutritious seed you can eat, putting them in the “superfoods” category. Here’s just a glimpse of the big punch this tiny seed packs:

  • Protein (approximately 5 grams per tablespoon)
  • Healthy fats (i.e. omega-3s and omega-6)
  • Vitamin E
  • Minerals (i.e. magnesium, zinc and iron)
  • Dietary fiber

Since hemp hearts are plant-based, they are a great protein source for vegetarians, or anyone looking for protein sources apart from the norm. They are also gluten-free and safe for anyone with a soy or dairy allergy.

Aside from the obvious nutrition benefits, hemp seeds are extremely versatile and can be added to anything from smoothies to salads to stir-fries. They have a nutty taste, but aren’t particularly flavorful on their own, so they can easily blend into the recipe of your choosing. Here are a few to try:

Steel-Cut Oats with Blackberries and Hemp Seeds via BonAppétit

Speedy Summer Hemp Power Salad via OhSheGlows

Raw Tabouli Hemp Seed Salad via KimberlySnyder

Pumpkin Pie Pro70 Smoothie via ManitobaHarvest

Portobello Hemp Melts via ManitobaHarvest

Mediterranean Wrap with Hemp Seed Basil Pesto via FettleVegan

Banana Hemp Seed Muffins via FitMomDiet

Hemp Seed Hummus via EatSpinRunRepeat

Adding a superfood staple like hemp hearts to your diet can do wonders in giving you the nutrition you need while keeping you full and satisfied pre and post-workout.

If you’ve already jumped on the hemp hearts bandwagon, what are some of your favorite recipes?