Is an Açaí Bowl good for you?


Açaí bowls or smoothie bowls are one of the latest health food fads. But are they good for you? Let’s dig deeper.

What is an açaí bowl?

Açaí bowls are a Brazilian specialty that gained traction in the US in the last couple years. They are traditionally made from the frozen and mashed fruit of the açaí palm and served topped with various fruit or granola. In the US, it has become a bit of a catch all term for smoothie bowls that have a fruit base and assorted toppings.

The Health Claims

Açaí berries, the base for açaí bowls, are often touted as a “superfood” for their nutrient density and powerful antioxidant punch. The bowls are often topped with more “superfoods” – chia seeds, berries, nut butter, and more. At first glance, it’s easy to think, “Man, that’s a healthy snack!”

Digging a little deeper, you’ll find that many açaí bowls, while packed with tons of healthy foods, are also loaded with sugar. When you take fruit, blend it with juice or sweetened almond milk to get the desired consistency, then top it with more fruit, some sweetened granola, and generous drizzle of honey, you can walk away with a treat that packs more sugar than a 20oz bottle of Coca Cola! 

The Verdict

For the average healthy person, açaí bowls can be an occasional treat but probably shouldn’t be thought of as a breakfast or meal substitute. Another option would be crafting a lower sugar version at home with a green smoothie base, adding some protein, and minimizing the sweetened additions. 

Açaí bowls aren’t going anywhere, but you can certainly make some adjustments to limit their sugar punch and keep you on track for your nutrition goals!

We Watch, You Read: Fed Up and That Sugar Film


I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this nutrition coach stopped watching nutrition documentaries a few years ago. So….over eight years ago. It felt like they were repeating things I already knew. And I wasn’t looking to spend 2 hours listening to people say things I agreed with.

I watched Food, Inc and a couple others back before the kids. They were part of my dive into seeing how nutrition could help me improve my mental health when I was stuck in a cycle of depression & anxiety relapses every 2 years. The changes I made then significantly improved my mental health, physical health, and overall life. But fastforward a couple years, and I was more about mindless Greys Anatomy reruns than more documentaries about how our food can make us feel better.

But I decided recently to dive in. I wanted to see what was out there and what I might be able to recommend to clients or clients’ parents in the case of my pediatric clients. Plus I fell into a habit of either listening to podcasts or documentaries while I do low intensity workouts. I know, I’m a nerd.

Sugar Shocker Docs

In the last week, I watched both Fed Up and That Sugar Film, both on Amazon Prime. They take slightly different approaches to looking at the thesis they both share – that the overconsumption of sugar, primarily in processed and refined foods, is the primary contributor to our nation’s epidemic of chronic disease and obesity.

Fed Up goes about it from the investigative journalism point of view with Katie Couric leading the charge. It considers both the systemic issues (the tomato paste on pizza counting as a vegetable for school lunches) and the stories of individual adolescents caught up in the mix. It is heartbreaking to listen to these kids talk about their bodies and hear doctors or parents list the litany of health issues the kids face. Perhaps the hardest part, as a mom, is hearing how the kids blame themselves. Yes, I cried. No, that doesn’t surprise you.

That Sugar Film attacks the sugar problem from a different angle – personal experimentation. Now, n=1 style experiments are not considered data. We’ll get that objection out of the way. But they do make for a good story. I won’t ruin it for you, but let’s just say is it shocking how much your body can change – physically and physiologically right down to the bloodwork – in only a month.

There’s quite a lot of overlap between the experts consulted for both films, and it’s the usual suspects of the low carb world. There are wildly mixed feelings about experts like Gary Taubes and Dr. Mark Hyman in the nutrition world, and David Wolf (in That Sugar Film) has no real credentials aside from a large online presence. They build their case without noting research that contradicts their theory, but such is the world of documentaries, no?

The Nutrition Coach’s Verdict

If you’re looking to be entertained, go watch That Sugar Film. For a more serious treatment of the subject, watch Fed Up. Planning to watch both? Start with Fed Up then watch That Sugar Film.

In the end, they both boil down to the simplest version of our own nutrition philosophy taken staright from CrossFit’s “Fitness in 100 Words”:

“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.”

So queue them up for your weekend viewing and let us know what you think!

Lifting Weights & Joint Health Over 50


Raise your hand if you’ve had someone tell you lifting weights is bad for your joints? Every hand should be in the air. Whether it’s a well-meaning co-worker or your primary care doc who maybe hasn’t seen the inside of a weight room in a decade, it still puts you on the defensive in a conversation you weren’t even looking to have.

But are they right? Does lifting weights affect your joints when you’re over 50?

Yes. Yes, it does. And we can use this to our advantage!

What most people mean when they say “does weightlifting affect your joints” is really “is weightlifting BAD for my joints?” And without getting too science-y (I’ll hold my inner nerd back today), we need to balance the types of lifting we do if we want to create resilient joints. When we train, we’re typically thinking about muscles, and muscles love repetitive fast movements. Your muscles act on your joints. Those joints are held together by soft tissues like tendons. Know what tendons love? The opposite of muscles. Tendons love heavy and slow. In a good program, you’ll mix up faster work (that “for time” piece in a CrossFit class) with some slower, more controlled lifting that targets the health of your joints.

If you’ve been training with weights or in a CrossFit style class and ended up with joint pain, you need to find a coach who knows how to work FOR your joints, not against them. It might mean doing some different work in warmups from the rest of the class or having some individual programming to bulletproof those joints. And when you’re squatting or doing pull-ups pain-free while your co-worker smarts about how bad it is for your joints, you’ll get to share a smug smile knowing they, too, could be working to make their joints healthier using weights!

5 Pre-Workout Nutrition Tips


“Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win.” – Bob Knight

Many people have diligent post workout recovery routines including consuming protein shakes, supplements, and other key nutrients.

However, very few individuals give much thought to their pre-workout nutrition.

What you consume for fuel before you exercise should include more than just a scoop of pre-workout or a can of Bang. It should contain the right types of fuel for your body and mind to meet the demands of the day’s activity. A great pre-workout nutrition routine will not only help your performance but can help improve your daily energy levels, build lean muscle mass, and shed unwanted fat. It is essential for taking your performance to the next level.

Pre-workout nutrition is unique for each individual. The types of foods, quantities, and ratios of macronutrients may need to be adjusted based on how you are feeling and performing. It is important to discuss all these factors with your nutrition coach so they can help you dial in on a plan that works best for you. Check out these 5 pre-workout nutrition tips to start creating a routine that works for you.

1. Leave time to digest

You want to consume the right amount of food to fuel your workout but not so much that it slows you down. Depending on body size and food choice, the body will generally absorb about 300-400 calories per hour. That means a meal of approximately 30g of protein and 40g of carbohydrates an hour before your meal will be fully digested by the time you begin exercise. If you have ever tried exercising on a full stomach, you know the feeling of bloat as all of the blood is out of your working muscles and in your abdomen for digestion. If you continue to push through the exercise, your body may try rejecting the remaining contents of the stomach. Not a pretty outcome! This is best avoided and makes proper pre-workout nutrition an easy choice.

2. Choose the right foods

The types of foods consumed are just as important as the quantities consumed. A balanced meal of low glycemic carbohydrates and high-quality protein is the best choice. For carbohydrates, the good options include fruit, applesauce (the pouches are so convenient!), or rice cakes. For protein, try grabbing a few slices of deli turkey or a shake with a scoop of quality whey protein. Fats aren’t an immediately available source of energy for high intensity activities like strength training, so it’s best to keep the quantities low pre-workout.

3. Avoid Certain Foods

Dairy products, spicy foods, and fibrous vegetables may not be the best choice for your pre-workout meal. They can cause cause discomfort on your gastrointestinal (GI) tract that is less than ideal when you are about to train. Feeling queasy, or running to the bathroom is not the best way to spend your time at the gym. As a rule of thumb, if you have to ask “will this food bother me?”, it is probably not the right choice.

4. Keep it consistent

The more you change up your pre-workout nutrition, the greater chance you have of something going wrong. It’s best to be a bit boring when it comes to nutrition, especially when you are eating to live rather than living to eat. Eating the same foods every day around your training schedule is the best way to dial in exactly the foods and quantities that give you the best results.

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”

5. Keep it simple

The best routine is the one that you have the highest probability of following. When you plan your pre-workout meal consider the foods that you generally have access to and can properly prepare and take with you.

So there you have it. The top 5 pre-workout nutrition tips. If you have any other questions about diet or training reach out to one of our nutrition coaches and get started.

3 Alternatives to Juice Cleansing


Heading into the new year, beach season, or anytime you have had “enough” with the way you look and feel about your body, there are some popular options you may have turned to. 

One of the most popular options is buying a multi-day juice cleanse from a local cafe or whole foods market that is supposed to replace all your meals. You are so excited as you pick up your bundle of beverages. A confidence and optimism that this time you mean business. That fat is going down!

But wait…is it really the best option for you to improve your health or lose weight?

Today let’s explore 3 alternatives to Juice Cleansing that truly support a healthy diet and lifestyle. These options will actually help your body perform better and get the results you want rather than juicing fruits and vegetables.

  • Consume Whole Fruits and Vegetables
  • Eat/Drink Balanced Meals
  • Staying Hydrated

1. Consume Whole Fruits and Vegetables

Whole fruits and vegetables are the basis for a healthy carb intake. Juicing eliminates the skin, pulp, and fiber that make these foods so healthy in the first place. Many of the flavonoids responsible for reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke are found in the pulp and skins of many fruits and veggies. Removing the fiber also increases the glycemic index, a measure of how a food impacts your blood sugar. Eating an orange has a totally different effect on your body than drinking a glass of orange juice. In fact, drinking OJ is more comparable to soda in the way it effects your body!

“If life gives you lemons, make some kind of fruity juice.” -Conan O’Brien

2. Eat/Drink Balanced Meals 

Did you ever sneak spoonfuls of sugar as a kid? I know I did! But as we get older and wiser, we know that that blatant disregard for our health won’t fly anymore. We try to limit our sweets to the foods that are really worth it. 

But did you know that when you juice you are basically drinking sugar? Especially if the juice contains fruit juices in the mix.

Try consuming balanced meals instead. Eat high quality protein, healthy fats, and whole fruits and veggies. Your body knows what to do with these real  foods and will respond better to a diet focus on protein and fat than a carb dominant intake-especially if fat loss is your goal. If you are looking to maintain a healthy body weight, you need meals that keep your metabolism stimulated and promote fat burning. High-quality protein will help keep you feeling full and repair muscle tissues. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats will improve inflammation response and help your body burn stubborn belly fat. Whole fruits and veggies will provide the key nutrients needed for energy production and eliminating toxins from the body.

3. Staying Hydrated

We often feel the need to go after a dramatic solution like a juice cleanse when we’ve been playing a little fast and loose in the food and beverage department. You might be feeling puffy from the extra sodium from eating out more than usual or drinking more alcohol. Your best bet is to go back to your habit of drinking water consistently throughout the day. Water will help you get that sodium balanced out and support your body as it lets go of that bloat. 

Now that you have some alternatives to juice cleansing you can try these out and see which option is best for your success. If you have questions about a healthy diet that lines up with your lifestyle, book a free intro with our coaches to get on a plan customized for you.

Debunking 3 Big Stretching Myths


Debunking 3 Big Stretching Myths

Stretching is one of the most misunderstood practices in the realm of fitness and sports performance. A long-standing staple in many training sessions, it is commonly performed incorrectly, performed at the wrong time, or avoided for the wrong reason.

By the end of this article you should be able to see the benefits of stretching and how to place it into your routine. Let’s take a closer look at what stretching is, when to do it, and debunk 3 of the most common myths about stretching.

Myth #1 Stretching makes you weak.

Stretching is sometimes avoided entirely. Especially by athletes who are concerned with losing strength or experiencing a decrease in performance. Holding long static stretches before executing a high intensity lift or movement may have an impact on the stretch shortening cycle of the muscle.

Most folks however, are not going hold a long passive hamstring stretch and immediately pop up into a heavy set of back squats or deadlifts. Proper stretching of the muscle requires breathing, relaxation, and a parasympathetic state to be performed correctly. Odds are that what most folks consider stretching is more like jamming their connective tissues, ligaments, and joints into aggressive end range of motion and uncomfortably holding them there until the pain is overwhelming. The positions are wrong. The intensity is too high. The body doesn’t relax. Stretching is not achieved.

Performing proper stretching has actually been shown to IMPROVE strength as the muscle is able to contract properly and generate force through a greater range of motion. But when and how should it be done? Let’s move on to myth #2.

Myth #2 Stretching should not be performed before exercise or sport.

Stretching before exercise or sport can actually increase performance. The key is knowing how long to stretch. A meta-analyses of studies around stretching and the ability to generate strength or power in subsequent effort found some pretty clear data.

Holding stretches for less than 30 seconds had no negative effect on the ability to jump, sprint, or produce force in resistance training movements. Holding stretches for 30 seconds or longer lead to decreases in the ability to produce force with longer stretch times leading to more significant decrease.

Key Takeaway: Perform dynamic stretching and short duration static stretching before exercise or sport. Take the muscles through a progressively increasing range of motion to improve circulation and prepare the body for performance. In classes, we do this through our dynamic warmup.

Myth #3 Stretching increases risk of injury

Based on the first two myths being debunked you probably know where this one is heading… The idea that stretching increases risk of injury is tied in with the lack of knowledge around proper timing and execution of stretching protocols. In today’s society we spend more time sitting, in poor positions, with our shoulders hunched and necks cranked forward as we peer at our cellphones and computer screens than our ancestors, who moved much more, did.

We’ve already established a dynamic stretching and short duration (< :30 seconds) static stretching routine can help prepare the body for performance, but there is a huge benefit to longer duration static stretching post workout and during active recovery sessions. By addressing some commonly tight muscles, we are able to correct our bodies posture and alignment. Stretching muscles that need stretched and strengthening ones that need strength help provide stability to joints and can significantly decrease injury risk.

So now that we’ve debunked some of the common myths around stretching, you should feel confident about incorporating stretching into your training. If you need help with stretching, mobility, or any other training needs consider connecting with one of our trainers to find a plan that works for you.

CrossFit: Sport vs Exercise Program


The CrossFit Games are this week!

CrossFit is a fun and effective way to get fit. It EXPLODED in popularity over the last several years!

Its popularity evolved because it works for everyday folks who need to maintain their health. CrossFit is also extremely popular as a competitive event.

Sometimes it’s tough for the outside world to see the differences between the sport of CrossFit on TV and the experience in a local gym. Let’s look at some of the key differences between the sport and the training style so you can make an educated decision on adopting CrossFit into your life.

CrossFit in any form incorporates functional movement. You’ll experience these patterns with natural human movement patterns like squatting, hinging, and pressing overhead. What varies between competition and class is the technical requirements or difficulty, and the loads used in competition. The Games you see on TV are the best athletes in the world competing head to head. It is a test to truly differentiate the fittest men and women using the most extreme workouts. They perform weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardiovascular workouts. These competitive workouts are MUCH more intense than a coach would ever ask you do perform in your local gym.

“Intensity is the independent variable most commonly associated with maximizing favorable adaptation to exercise,” -Greg Glassman

It’s cool to see your favorite athletes pushed and tested so they feel the workout is just as challenging as you feel YOUR workouts are. Everyone is safely pushed and challenged to improve themselves. Reaching just a little bit further and tapping into their true potential.

CrossFit in the Gym

CrossFit is known for its friendly and welcoming community. You will not be the biggest or smallest, the oldest or youngest, or even the least experienced.

The regular CrossFit class looks very different from training for the sport. Everyday the workout is different and scaled to your specific needs. Your coach is more likely to scale the weights or movements rather than push you into doing something that is dangerous or painful.

This style of training is so popular because people are able to experience long term growth in a fun and supportive environment. If you’re ready to join a like-minded community of motivated individuals then come check us out!

Save Your Fruits and Veggies


We have all been there — you are super excited to start eating healthier so you go out and buy tons and tons of fruits and veggies. Then, before you know it, 75% of what you bought has gone bad before you can eat them! Ready to save those fruits and veggies instead of tossing them?

Here are our top tips to keep your favorite produce ready to eat. 

The Basics

1) Don’t keep your produce in the door of the refrigerator where temperatures fluctuate. Keep them in the middle or bottom drawers to keep temperatures more consistent and avoid spoilage.

2) Don’t keep raw meat and produce in the same area of the fridge or counter. Cross-contamination is likely to happen, and you risk the chance of getting ill.

Veggies

Fresh heads of lettuce, spinach, kale and other leafy greens should be washed really well with water before refrigerating. Dry the leaves and store them in a clean plastic bag with a few paper towels. Switch out the paper towels as needed.

Asparagus should be stored in the refrigerator and will last longer if stored these two ways: wrapped with a moist paper towel or standing them up in a glass of cold water wrapped with a damp paper towel

Garlic and onions should be kept at room temperature and in a well-ventilated area.

Store your mushrooms in a brown paper bag in the fridge or a cool, dry place. Don’t use plastic or glass, as this will trap in moisture and shorten their shelf life.

Place fresh herbs in a jar or vase of water, just like you would a bouquet of flowers. They’ll last longer and you’ll have beautiful green decor for your kitchen!

Fruits

Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature away from sunlight and washed just before using. Be sure not to store your tomatoes in plastic, as this will trap moisture and increase the likelihood of spoilage.

Fruits from the “drupe” category such as mangoes, plums, peaches, avocados, and nectarines can be ripened at room temperature in a brown paper bag, and should then be refrigerated for longer storage.

Clean your berries in a mixture of 10 parts water and 1 part white vinegar. It will help remove excess dirt and help them last longer by preventing mold growth.

Pro Tip:

Freezing fruits and veggies at home is a fast and convenient way to preserve produce at their peak maturity. Peel and freeze your bananas, mango,  papaya, cooked cauliflower, beets or sweet potato in a clean plastic bag. Use them later in baking or for delicious smoothies!

 

Make Your Breakfast 10% Better


 

You’ve heard it before. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It’s become cliche. And like so many aphorisms you lose an important message when you overlook it. 

A healthy breakfast can support your physical and mental performance. If you are trying to excel, grow, and make changes to your body or in your life then you need the proper fueling regimen to get you there.

Have you ever crashed during your workout? Felt mentally foggy or weak on a particular day? There’s probably a correlation with your nutrition. Whether it can be drawn back to the days breakfast or the long term effects of neglected nutrition you can probably find a link.

To get the results you want need to pay attention to your nutrition. Some people do better with big changes. But today let’s just focus on how you can make your breakfast 10% better. 

There are so many benefits of eating a healthy breakfast. Of course improved performance is one, but eating breakfast has also been shown to reduce food cravings later in the day. It can also improve mental clarity and boost energy.

Our bodies are complex machines and the benefits of breakfast impacts the way our body operates for the day. Eating breakfast affects neurotransmitter production, electrolyte balance, blood sugar levels and more. Our bodies operate with best with certain types of fuel and the right ratio of carbs, fat and protein to perform at their best. But before you reach for your Cornflakes chill for a second. Not all breakfasts are created equal.  

So what are the makings of a great breakfast?

Choosing high quality proteins, healthy fats, and low glycemic carbs is a great start to make your breakfast 10% better!

Increasing protein intake is one of the best decisions you can make for your nutrition, especially at breakfast. Protein contains high quality amino acids that will keep you satiated and prevent cravings later in the day. Try to eat some solid protein such as meat or eggs. If you need a quick option try keeping hard boiled eggs and greek yogurt on hand. They are easy options to scarf down quickly or grab on your way out the door to work. Protein shakes are also good but whole foods are best. People who consume liquid protein in the morning don’t get the same satiety benefits and still tend to overeat later in the day. Use protein shakes only if no other options are available or you are going to exercise first thing in the morning and need something fast digesting.

For fats look for foods like nuts, seeds, and avocados. These foods provide healthy monounsaturated fat and are chock full of vitamins and minerals as well. Rotating through different fats will ensure you have diversity in your diet and prevent excessive intake of any one food. A handful of nuts or some chia pudding are all easy grab and go options for healthy breakfast fats.

For carbs at breakfast you should take a less is more approach. Focus on low glycemic carbs such as leafy greens and broccoli. Dark berries are also great choice when fresh and in season. This will give you some additional fuel for your day. Try to avoid highly processed foods that will spike your blood sugar and have you craving carbs and making energy levels crash throughout the day. 

Struggling with breakfast ideas? Check out our Healthy Recipes for ideas!

For more nutritional and training strategies get in touch with one of our coaches today!

Optimizing Nutrition For Recovery


There is a plethora of information on the interwebs when it comes to nutrition advice.

Everyone claims to have the secret tip or biohack that will make you bigger, smaller, or more of…well whatever your goal happens to be. The marketing gimmicks are endless.

Nutrition is a highly individualized journey. There are certainly some wrong answers out there but when it comes to what is right for you the answer could be totally unique. Finding an overall nutrition strategy that fits your goals and lifestyle is essential if you want to have success. If you’re not sure where to begin then start with a certified coach who can guide you through the process toward healthy eating.

When it comes to post workout recovery there are a few key factors to keep in mind. For healthy individuals performing high intensity exercise, it is imperative that you consume a healthy post workout meal. Your post workout meal should replenish glycogen in your muscles and provide ample amino acids for protein synthesis.

Cyclist Study

In one study at the Norwegian School of Sport Science made cyclists performing time trials to exhaustion (TTE). Immediately post workout the cyclists were given a carbohydrate drink, a carb and protein beverage, or a non caloric placebo. The group who consumed the carbohydrate plus protein beverage significantly outperformed the other groups when performing a second cycling test just 18 hours after the first. The study suggests that if you train hard multiple days in a row then carbohydrate and protein intake post workout seems to boost subsequent performance.

“Exercise makes carbs your friend” -Charles Poliquin

Cyclists in the study consumed carbs and protein in a 2:1 ratio. This means they consumed twice as many carbs compared to protein. The amount given was based on the body weight of the individuals. They used a rate of 0.8 g carbohydrate and 0.4 g protein per kilogram of body weight.

In a 175 lb. person this would look like:
0.8 g/kg x (175lb ÷ 2.2kg/lb.) = 64 g Carbohydrate
0.4 g/kg x (175lb ÷ 2.2kg/lb.) = 32 g Protein

In a 130 lb. person this would look like:
0.8 g/kg x (130lb ÷ 2.2kg/lb.) = 48 g Carbohydrate
0.4 g/kg x (130lb ÷ 2.2kg/lb.) = 24 g Protein

What’s This Mean for Me?

You can use this equation to calculate your ideal ratio of carbs and protein to optimize post workout recovery. Not a fan of measuring it out or struggle with following the math? Then let’s take a look at some quality food sources that would provide you with the desired amounts of protein and carbs. You can select the weight range you fall in and select the foods that best fit your tastes and lifestyle!

Food Grams Carbohydrate Food Grams Protein
Kiwi 10g/kiwi Chicken Breast 31g/4oz portion
Apricot 17g/cup Whey Protein 15g/tablespoon
Pineapple 22g/cup Greek Yogurt 25g/cup
White Rice 45g/cup Salmon Fillet 28g/4oz portion
Maple Syrup 13g/tablespoon Egg 6g/egg

 

Food 175 lb person needs Food 175 lb person needs
Kiwi 6 kiwi Chicken Breast 4 oz portion
Apricot 4 cups Whey Protein 2 tablespoons
Pineapple 3 cups Greek Yogurt 1.25 cups
White Rice 1.5 cups Salmon Fillet 4 oz portion
Maple Syrup 5 tablespoons Egg 5 eggs

 

Food 130 lb person needs Food 130 lb person needs
Kiwi 5 kiwi Chicken Breast 3 oz portion
Apricot 3 cups Whey Protein 1.5 tablespoons
Pineapple 2 cups Greek Yogurt 1 cup
White Rice 1 cup Salmon Fillet 3 oz portion
Maple Syrup 3.5 tablespoons Egg 4 eggs

Use this as a starting point to tackle your post workout recovery. Your other meals may look very different than this post workout recovery meal. The quantity of macronutrients as well as the sources you get them from may vary. Working with an experienced nutrition coach is the best way to dial in a plan that works for you.