Supplements

There are tons of nutritional supplements on the market today, some are beneficial, some scams and some down right unhealthy. See below for a guide of the supplements I recommend taking on a daily basis.

Multivitamin

Hands down, the best way to ensure you get all the essential nutrients you need in the highest quality is to eat a good well balanced diet. Even with a proper diet however is is possible that you may miss some of your daily recommended vitamins and minerals, a multivitamin will help cover these gaps when they arise. It is important to recognize that there is no standard or regulatory definition for multivitamins thus it is extremely important to buy high quality multivitamins that lack fillers and binders. A whole food based vitamin is generally considered healthier than a synthetic vitamin as well.

Photo Credit: PPCORN

Fish Oil

Similar to a multivitamin the best way to consume all the necessary omega-3 fatty acids is through a healthy diet. Unfortunately most western diets do not include enough omega-3 fatty acids and thus a supplement is a good way to ensure you get enough. BodyBuilding.com sites omega-3 fatty acids as being able to support healthy cholesterol levels, boosts your mood and help maintain strong bones.

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Photo Credit: Doctor Murray

Supplements for Working Out

When working out consistently you put an additional stress on your body. I recommend taking a whey protein supplement immediately after lifting weights, as well as a creatine and glutamine supplement daily.  These three supplements in combination help the body to build muscle mass and recover faster. It is important to take high quality supplements with no fillers or binders. Consumer Reports found that many protein powders contain dangerous heavy metals so make sure you do your own homework before putting anything into your body.

Photo Credit: BodyBuilding.com

What supplements do you take, and how do they help promote overall health?

 

Superfoods!

It’s A Bird… It’s A Plane… It’s A Superfood!

So what are superfoods anyway? While there is no scientific definition of what a superfood is, it generally refers to a nutrient dense food that is considered to promote positive health. Merriam-Webster defines a superfood as:

a food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health <Superfoods increase energy and vitality, regulate cholesterol and blood pressure and may help to prevent or fight cancer and other diseases.— Kathleen Back Brady, Tallahassee (Florida) Democrat, 26 Feb. 2014> <Because açai is rich in polyphenols and other antioxidants, it’s been hailed by some as a superfood or “miracle berry.” — Andrew Weil, Self Healing, October 2006>

Superfoods alone are not the key to a healthy diet, but they can be used to promote positive health.  Try to incorporate as much of these nutrient packed foods into your diet on a daily basis as possible. The majority of superfoods are plant based whole foods which is the key to a proper balanced diet. Below is a list of some of the most popular and most nutrient dense superfoods:

  • beans
  • beats
  • beetroot
  • blueberries
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • chia
  • chocolate
  • cranberries
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • goji berries
  • greek yogurt
  • green tea
  • kale
  • leeks
  • lentils
  • oatmeal
  • oily fish
  • pistachios
  • pomegranate
  • pumpkins
  • quinoa
  • salmon
  • spinach
  • strawberries
  • watermelon
  • wheatgrass

Many of these same superfoods can be found on the 25 Greatest Superfoods list with a more detailed description of what makes each one so super.

Super Food
Photo Credit: Body Kinetics

What is your favorite superfood?

Proper Hydration

The human body needs three things to survive: oxygen, water and food. Proper hydration is thus key to our survival and its also key to good health. The human body is composed of roughly 60% water, and it takes constant maintenance to maintain this healthy percentage.

Benefits of Water

Photo by USGS

Water is crucial for all the body’s cells and organs. Your body requires water to regulate its temperature, lubricate it joints, remove and dilute waste and allow your cells to reproduce. Being properly hydrated also makes you feel more energized, powerful and alert. It also allows your body to recover quicker and feel well.

How Much and When to Drink

The debate of exactly how much to drink is ongoing.  It is safe to say that if you experience signs of dehydration then you are not drinking enough water. See below for some common signs of dehydration:

  •  Darker Urine
  • Little or no Urine
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Thirst
  • Cramps
  • Nausea

If you experience any of the above symptoms then it may be wise to increase your fluid intake. The classic thought of drinking 8 glasses of water 8 times a day is a good starting point and is easy to remember but may not be sufficient hydration for everybody. Depending on each persons own body as well as their activity level, everyone’s precise hydration needs will be different. According to the Mayo Clinic:

The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day.

Even the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation could be low however if you are working out intensely. FamilyDoctor.org does an excellent job summing up how much water to drink before, during and after exercise:

The American Council on Exercise has suggested the following basic guidelines for drinking water before, during, and after exercise:

  • Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before you start exercising
  • Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up
  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
  • Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise

Athletes may want to measure how much fluid they lose during exercise to get a more specific measurement of how much water to drink (16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound of body weight lost).

Water is not the only way to stay hydrated. Sports Drink (although some are excessively high in sugar) and some foods can be an excellent source of water as well as provide your body with essential electrolytes. Coconut water is a good Sports Drink substitute that is packed full of electrolytes without all the added processed sugars. Watermelon and bananas are also good fruits for remaining hydrated. Watermelon mostly consists of water and bananas are full of the electrolyte potassium.

Hyponatremia

Beware that it is possible to have too much water, Hyponatremia is a rare condition that results from over hydration. It occurs when you consume so many liquids that you dilute the sodium levels in your body. This causes your cells to swell with water and not function correctly and can lead to swelling of the extremities, a comma and even possible death. Typically this is not a condition that the average Joe needs to be concerned with; extreme endurance athletes are more susceptible to it.

 

Easy Oats

Easy Oats, also called Overnight Oats, are a healthy way to ensure you eat a nutritional breakfast with little hassle in the morning. These are great for those morning when you need to grab something on the go. Some mornings it seems difficult to find time to make a healthy breakfast, this alternative is an easy way to ensure you always have time in the morning to eat a healthy nutritious breakfast which is critical for your overall health and well being. Easy Oats are oats that are soaked in liquid overnight. The oats absorb the liquid and become soft, eliminating the need to cook them.  This makes for an extremely quick and easy, yet nutritious, breakfast. The base of easy oats is milk, yogurt and oats. Any yogurt and milk can be used to create different flavors, based on personal preferences. I chose to use almond milk and Greek yogurt for a slightly more healthy variety. Any toppings can also be added to the oats both the night before or the morning of. My personal favorite easy oats recipe is blueberry banana.

Blueberry Banana Easy Oats
Blueberry Banana Easy Oats

Blueberry Banana Easy Oats

My favorite Blueberry Banana Easy Oats recipe is extremely easy to make. Simply combine and mix all the below ingredients into a medium size bowl. Put the oats into a mason jar and refrigerate overnight. Enjoy in the morning.

Easy Oats Base
Easy Oats Base Ingredients

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt

1/2 Cup Almond Milk

1/2 Cup Oats

1/2 Cup Blueberries

1 Banana (sliced)

1 Dash of Cinnamon

1 Splash of Vanilla Extract

Remove the oats from the refrigerator in the morning and you have a complete breakfast ready to go. Try experimenting with different base ingredients or different topping for unique flavors. BuzzFeed has a good article with many different recipes to try.

Make some Easy Oats tonight, and let us know in the comments section below how you enjoyed them.

The 4 Keys to Better Nutrition

It seems that every nutritional expert these days is contradicting his or her colleague in regards to what is nutritious and what is not. If you are anything like me, this makes determining how to eat nutritiously quite a chore. There are a few things that most experts seem to agree on though that can lead to a more nutritious diet and a healthier overall life style. Diet is arguably the single most important factor in determining ones overall life long health.

The wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings. Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

–Hippocrates (father of modern medicine)

Below are my 5 keys to eating nutritiously:

1) Lifestyle

To live a healthy nutritious life, the first step is to make a lifestyle change in regards to nutrition. Do not start a diet that has an end date to it, at best your results would only last the duration of the diet. Not to mention it is widely accepted that 95% of diets fail before completion. Do not begin a fad starvation diet but instead follow the keys below to lead a nutritious life.  Implement a “Cheat Meal” once a week, cheat meals can help maintain our healthy lifestyle without giving up and one unhealthy mean a week will have minimal effect on our overall health.

2) Whole Food Plant Based

Quite possibly the most important key to nutrition is to eat whole food plant based meals.  This includes plenty of vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts and fat-free or low-fat milk products. A whole food plant based diet will naturally be low in fats (both trans fats and saturated fats), cholesterol, sodium and sugars and will provide a good or source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.  Try to implement whole grain foods, substitute your red meats in for chicken or fish and eat plenty of vegetables.

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Photo by Honolulu Media

3) Hydration

Your body is said to consist of about 60% water and thus proper hydration is essential for your well being. Proper hydration can help with transportation and absorption of nutrients, digestion, circulation and more. According to the Mayo Clinic the Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day. The adequate intake for women is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day.

4) Variety

Vary the foods that you eat. The more of a variety of colors and textures the better.  This will ensure that you are consuming a wide range of different nutrients and vitamins. When shopping for produce at the store try to pick a variety of different brightly colored fruits and vegetables.

Go out and eat some vegetables and leave a comment below if you know another key to proper nutrition that is not on the list.