We'll get back to the music next week. For today, I'm going to stray from my usual post and talk a little more about food.
I give a lot of food-related advice to people, but without a degree in nutrition it is best for me to share what works for me. I can not prescribe a menu plan, but I can definitely give some good meal suggestions that have worked for me to feel nourished, enjoy something delicious, and - most importantly - not be full of crap and junk.
Now, keep in mind, I burn a LOT of calories. I am very anti-diet, save for the food choices I feel like everyone ought to make, such as eating more fresh produce and fewer boxed and bagged items. But I do need to eat a lot of food, trying to make sure *most* of it is nutritious, albeit somewhat calorie-dense. So if you are reading this blog and trying to lose weight by cutting calories, here are a few substitutions for some of the food and beverage items I might talk about:
reduced fat or skim milk, or unsweetened alternative "milk": Alternative milks have high nutrient content but if they are flavored they will contain a good amount of sugar as well. If you are cutting calories, use traditional non-fat milk in your cereal and coffee, saving the sweet stuff to enjoy a glass of after a hard, hour+ long workout. Personally, I use vanilla almond milk all the time, but that is because of my own personal caloric requirements (read below).
more carbs vs. fewer carbs: I eat a lot of carbs, and there are a lot of different opinions out there as far as what someone's carb, fat and protein ratios ought to be. If you are training for a major endurance event, up to 70% of your calories can come from carbs. Mid-range athletes, like myself, might enjoy 60%, and people looking to balance out their diets and lose weight would benefit from 50%. I see a lot of carb-reduction or elimination diets out there that I think can be narrowed down to one basic principle: eat less processed junk. So many of our carbohydrates come from junk food and sweets that just about anyone would benefit from simply switching from processed foods to whole grains and eating more fruits and vegetables.
meat vs. meat: No substitution here, unless you're vegetarian in which case, I'm sorry. (kidding) I do have a few suggestions for choosing and eating meat, however. When possible, choose meat from eco-conscious suppliers whose animals are free range, given natural feed, not treated with hormones or antibiotics, or any combination of at least two of those qualities. Save money and calories by only eating meat for one meal of the day (there is no reason to eat meat at every meal, there are plenty of other great sources of protein). Learn your cuts of meat so you know what is leaner, but don't discount all parts of the animal. Dark chicken meat, for example, has more B vitamins than it's paler counterpart.
breakfast vs. no breakfast: If you haven't heard by now - which is to say, if you've been living under a rock - you need to eat breakfast! But for the record, you shouldn't skip any meal. Whether you make yourself smaller portions and include snacks throughout your day or attempt to stick to three square meals, you should not make yourself go more than 4-5 hours without eating to avoid stalling out your metabolism. Not hungry or too crunched for time? Start small, with a piece of fruit, and work your way up. For myself, my breakfast must include a little protein, carbs (of course), a little fruit, and coffee.
Trader Joe's Vanilla Almond Granola cereal with TJ's Vanilla Almond milk and diced Anjou pear. This week's coffee is Pete's French Roast. And my bowl was much fuller than that to start, I just didn't want to seem like a piggy.
Having a kid, it's easier to think this way, but my approach to breakfast is this: What should I eat to hold me over, should I not get to eat again until 2:00PM? And I can tell you that if you have been eating to lose weight but are now maybe embarking on a new fitness routine that will greatly increase you activity, you need to consider adding foods BACK in. Try not to focus so much on quantity as you do on quality and pick foods that pack a punch. For my next food installment, I'll go into some of my favorite "multitasking" foods. Don't worry, they're good multitaskers, not weird ones, like ketchup made with squash, sweet potato and tomato. (Honestly, if it's not too late, just avoid the whole ketchup fiasco by not keeping it in the house.)
What did you eat for breakfast today?
What's your one, must-have health food?