Coffee & Athletes – Performance Perks + Consumption Timing

Coffee is a social unifier, people are constantly meeting up for a cup, professing their addiction love on everything from t-shirts to internet memes, and it’s a go-to gift for the person who has everything (because you can never have enough coffee, am I right?). While coffee brings us together, it can also set you apart in your athletic endeavors if optimized properly within a training diet. Coffee and Athletes - Performance Perks and Consumption Tips

Today, I’m spilling the beans on how coffee can improve performance and endurance, increase focus, and provide that extra edge your looking for on race day.   Continue reading

Favorite Healthy Blender Recipes that aren’t Smoothies + Giveaway

This post and giveaway are sponsored by Hamilton Beach. However, all content, comments, recipes and enthusiasm are my own.

My engine is revving and I’m whirling with excitement to be sharing some of my favorite blender recipes today (including a special nut butter recipe) – you’ll notice there are no smoothies (it’s just too cold for me)! I’m also hosting a giveaway for a new Hamilton Beach ® Professional 1800 Watt Peak Power Blender (ARV $249), whoohoo! This versatile workhorse for your kitchen easily emulsifies oils into dressings, frapees fruit into frozen drinks, purees potatoes into porridge, chops veggies for your moire poux, and makes meat  . . .uh, well, minced meat It also makes child’s play of pulverizing the heartiest seeds and nuts into butter.

Sriracha Six Seed & Nut Butter delicious on wraps, as a dip, made into a sauce or by the spoon!

Check out my recipe for Smoky Sriracha Six Seed & Nut Butter featured today on Hamilton Beach’s Every Day Good Thinking blog. And then, come back to enter the blender giveaway and drool and pin my other favorite blender recipes.

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Making Muscles & Memories – Fitness & Food Recap 2016

Welcome to my end-of-year 2016 recap and thank you sincerely SO MUCH for taking the time to visit my blog today, this year, in years prior! If this is your first time to swing by, I hope you’ll make yourself at home, click around and discover a workout, recipe, nutrition tip or tutorial that will help you get further down the path on your fitness and healthy living journey. My passion is to create healthy but “real-life” recipes and inspire peeps of all ages and abilities to eat better, move more and try new things.

Jennifer Fisher - Run for the Water 2016

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Run Buns off with Me at Schlotsky’s #BunRun – Austin Sept 24

Are you ready to run (or walk) your buns off?! Just wanted to let y’all know (especially my Texas friends) about the 34th Annual Bun Run hosted by Schlotzsky’s. It’s going down on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016 beginning at The Domain (11401 Century Oakes Terrace).

Jen

I’ve run this race so many times, I love it! In fact, last year I came in 3rd overall woman among some young, fast ladies – whoot, whoot!

schlotskys bun run 2015 start line

But, whether you race, run, job, walk, push a stroller or whatever, it’s a win-win for everyone! You get a chance to get out and get a little exercise with your friends or family in beautiful ATX – and maybe do a little post-race shopping at the Domain. Plus, by participating, you also support the race beneficiary, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Millions of people around the world live with Type 1 Diabetes – it’s a life-threatening, autoimmune disease that affects children and adults alike – there is no known cure! However, maybe there will be one day soon, thanks to research initiated by JDRF and funded by your generous donations and participation in events like the Bun Run. More on how Schlotsky’s Supports JDRF.

schlotsky-step-up Another way Schlotzsky’s has been helping to put an end to diabetes is by partnering in the   month-long Step Up! Campaign.This “Give $1, Get $1” in-store promotion offers guests a coupon for $1 off their next Schlotzsky’s purchase for every $1 they donate. It’s a no-brainer decision to make at the cash register.

Schlotsky's Bun Run 2016

More info on the Sept. 24th 2016 Bun Run:

It’s the perfect race for casual runners and serious racers! In addition to a flat and fast certified 5K course for adults through Austin, there is a Kid’s K, which is an easy 1K race for kids 12 and under. Additional activities during Bun Run events include:

  • Team Challenge – Challenge your friends, family and coworkers to a friendly competition
  • Fastest Dog in Austin – Register your dog to run alongside yo for the 5K, complete with a chip timer to track their time
  • Kid’s Korral at the Expo – Fun activities including inflatable soccer, face painting, special treats and more

You can REGISTER HERE! See you on the start line!

schlotsky's pizza

Oh, and I won’t lie, PIZZA is my favorite thing to get at this sandwich shop!

What is your favorite menu item? Have you ever run the Bun Run? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer 

 

Protein Timing for Endurance Athletes + Thermos® Shaker Bottle

Thermos Brand Shaker Bottle
Before I get on my soapbox about protein, let me tell you this post is sponsored by Genuine Thermos® Brand Shaker Bottle.  Of all the shaker bottles that have come and gone (quickly) my life, this one is a keeper and hands-down the best!  It’s made of safe materials, shatter-proof (important if you’ve seen some of my workouts), and resistant to leaks – the lid screws on tightly and there is actually a push-button release cap on the spigot!

Breaking up with these old shaker bottles wasn't hard to do!

Breaking up with these old shaker bottles wasn’t hard to do!

As one whom has spilled time and time again, over the front of my shirt, on the car upholstery and all inside my gym bag, this “leak proof” feature is a huge selling point with me. Anyway, Thermos®  is holding a giveaway for 10 of these very-impressive vessels – go here to enter! And read down to the bottom of the post where I have more deets on this must-have nutrition gear for the athlete. Now, onto the protein . .

PROTEIN TIMING FOR ENDURANCE ATHLETES — RUNNERS, TRIATHLETES, SWIMMERS, ULTRA MARATHONERS, OBSTACLE COURSE RACERS, MOUNTAIN BIKERS, ECO ADVENTURE TYPES, MUD RUNNERS, ROWERS, SKIERS — I’M TALKING TO YOU!

Timing IS everything, especially when it comes to protein and the endurance athlete. Not only does adequate protein consumption provide sustained energy for the day’s routine activities, it helps to rebuild muscle taxed by strenuous exercise, and makes it easier to maintain a lean body mass, even as we age.  I’m excited to share with you what I’ve learned over years of listening to and working with various experts on the topic and sharing the personal protein strategy I use to keep a low body fat percentage and fuel my performance as a runner and obstacle course athlete.

Jennifer Fisher - Beef Sirloin Steaks

What? Is this too much protein for one meal?

How much protein is enough or too much and how much do you eat? I get this question all the time. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound – that’s about 56 grams per day for the average non-active man or 46 grams per day for the average non-active woman. This RDA calculates out to about 10% of suggested daily caloric intake. You might be surprised to find out that the 45 to 56 g protein just mention is the equivalent of 6 to 8 ounces of a lean animal-based protein like chicken, fish or beef! However, the modest RDA was set a long time ago, during a time food rationing during war, and is widely considered by most nutritionists to be the minimum amount needed to keep from becoming malnourished and sick!  Today’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that we should be taking in from 10% to 35% of daily calories from various forms of protein, depending on our needs and activity levels.

Jennifer Fisher - Beef Team Elite Runner

Endurance athletes like marathon runners and triathletes need more protein than the average couch potato, and calories as well. Our busy bodies need protein to more efficiently process carbohydrates into quick fuel and to rebuild (and even grow) muscle. You can’t really eat too much protein, many dieters have had success on a high-fat, higher protein Keto diet. However, when it comes to protein, there is a point of diminishing returns for an athlete. Remember, the body can only process about 25 – 30 grams per meal or snack, regardless of your body size. Plus, when you up calorie intake from protein, proportionately speaking, calories from other areas have to give  — unless you want to gain weight. Plus, training high mileage with few carbs leaves you feeling sluggish and like you’ve got lead in your legs (trust me, I’ve tried). Even the author of fruit and grain-shaming The Paleo Diet broke down and admitted, in a the later-published The Paleo Diet for Athletes, that there is a need for certain carbohydrates in a training diet if optimal performance is the goal.

When should I eat my protein? I’ve seen some people talk about “front loading” protein in the morning to start of the day. Yes and no. Yes, you definitely should be eating protein right upon waking up. Muscles need to be fed; they’ve been in a complete fasting state for the last 8 hours or since the last meal. However, you don’t need more than 25 – 30 grams as previously mentioned; it won’t do you any good (unless you’re just eating it for taste or gains!).

Beef Egg Potato Bake Breakfast Casserole - TheFitFork.com

Start your day with 25 – 20 grams of protein!

Get my Barn-raiser Egg & Beef Bake recipe (above) which has been featured in Taste of Home magazine and on the Hallmark Channel “Home & Family Show”

The optimal plan for protein intake is to space it evenly throughout the day. Americans tend to “back load,” that is, eating it mostly at dinner!  A basic breakdown consists of protein at breakfast, lunch, dinner and possibly a post-workout snack and bedtime snack, depending on your needs. For super intense workouts, you may also consider protein intake with your carbs during actual exercise – protein helps to more quickly process carbs in the blood stream.

Most of us endurance athletes know by now that the optimal window for protein intake after a workout is within about 30 minutes, 60 minutes worst case scenario. Experts suggest that the carb to protein ratio of this recovery snack be 4g carb to 1g protein or 3 to 1.  So remember to bring along a protein bar, shake, nuts or some other protein-rich snack that can be consumed almost immediately after your sweat session.

A simple shake make with protein powder makes a great bed time snack. If you can tolerate milk, use it as your base -- dairy has special enzymes that help facilitate the job of protein while you sleep

Now, onto the bedtime snack. I eat from lights on to lights out! Eating before bed goes against the very rules of what your mother taught you. Curiously, I’ve always craved a protein snack about hour before my head hits the pillow – and was happy to find out I was actually doing my body a positive service. Much of our recover and muscle growth happens at night and it needs long-lasting fuel to do so. Experts say that dairy-based protein snacks are the best picks at night. Apparently, specific enzymes in dairy foods maximize the work load protein. That means my nightly Greek yogurt (or a protein shake made with milk) is a post-dinner winner!

jennifer fisher fit foodie run beef

 

A Fairly Common Protein Day for ME (Remember, it may vary for you):

  • Breakfast: 30g protein from eggs, mug muffin made with protein powder, or smoothie
  • Post-Workout Snack: 20g protein bar, peanut butter toast, protein powder and fruit shake
  • Lunch:  Salad with 30g protein from mixture of leftover meat, beans, etc.
  • Dinner: 25g protein from protein like sirloin steak, chicken breast, salmon with veggies on the side.
  • Bedtime Snack: 20g protein from plain Greek yogurt mixed with stevia and sprinkle of granola.
The Thermos Brand Shaker Bottle doesn't leak thanks to the push-button release cap!

The Thermos Brand Shaker Bottle doesn’t leak thanks to the push-button release cap!

So, back to the Genuine Thermos® Brand Shaker Bottle, its ideal for those protein shakes I’ve been mentioning for breakfast or post-workout recovery. Again, I love the leak-proof design, but also another feature that’s awesome about this shaker bottle is that it features an integrated yet removable stationary mixer that helps evenly blend beverages – no one wants to gag on unexpected protein clumps!  Also, I really appreciate the capacity markings along the side of the bottle – it helps me make my protein drink recipes without having to haul out measuring cups. Plus, it also keeps me aware of how much I’m drinking or not drinking, as the case may be!  Many times I need to see those tick marks reveal to know I’m staying hydrated and getting enough calories/protein for recovery.

 Specs for Genuine Thermos® Brand Shaker Bottle : It sells for about $14.99, holds 24 ounces, is clear with a gray/green lid, and measures 3.8” W x 3.4” D x 9.2” H  (and, yes, it fits in my car’s cup holder). Plastic is BPA-free, impact-resistant and impervious to absorbing odors of flavors from past beverages. And (yay), its dishwasher –safe!

shaker bottle thermos contest

Enter for chance to be one of ten randomly selected winners of in the Genuine Thermos® Brand Shaker Bottle Giveaway! Head over to the Thermos® Facebook page for entry details.

And, don’t miss out on a thing – follow Thermos® on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for exclusive updates and product information.

whole foods gift cardAdditionally, I’m personally hosting a giveaway for a $25 gift card to Whole Foods so you can buy some yummy, nourishing ingredients to put in your ShakerBottle

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

4 Pomegranate Perks for Athletes + Healthy New Year Cocktail

4 Pomegranate Perks for AthletesFall and winter are prime time for pomegranates, a delicious superfood with juice and arils (fleshy seeds) that appear in everything from seasonal salads and smoothies to holiday cocktails and desserts. But there is much more to a pomegranate than festive flavor and ruby-red good looks, the prized fruit offers an abundant supply of vitamins, essential minerals, and a rich assortment of antioxidants – it’s also a good source of dietary fiber. It addition helping optimize health and wellness for the general population, pomegranate has several distinctive benefits for runners, ultra runners, cyclists, triathletes, obstacle course racers and other endurance and strength athletes.

Reduces DOMS: A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that the polyphenols found in pomegranate juice may help reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in previously resistance-trained individuals.  Study participants who drank pomegranate juice, rather than the placebo, reported less incidence of discomfort in the exercises administered to provoke arm and leg soreness. Take away:  Drinking pomegranate juice before exercise may lessen soreness and quicken recovery so that you can train again sooner.

Increases Exercise Efficiency:  A 2014 study reported in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, sports scientists at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say that the nitrates in pomegranate extract enhance exercise efficiency by decreasing oxygen consumption during exercise without limiting performance, increasing blood lactate or increasing energy contribution from glycolysis or the phosphagen system. It’s the same sort of benefit that has also been attributed to consuming beet juice before endurance exercise. Take away: Pomegranate juice or extract supplements may enhance exercise efficiently and increase the amount of time it takes to get to reach exhaustion.

Reduce Inflammation and Bolster Immunity: Pomegranate seeds are rich in specific polyphenols, such as tannins, quercetin and anthocyanins — all of which may offer both heart health and anti-cancer benefits. Studies have shown that quercetin can help lower LDL cholesterol, reduce inflammation and serves as a natural antihistamine to fight seasonal allergies.  Additionally, studies specifically on athletes have suggest this phytochemical bolsters health during the 3 to 72 hour window of impaired immunity following heavy training and also may help increase endurance. Take away: Recover faster and keep from getting sick during intense training cycles with pomegranate.

Quick Source of Energy: A glass of pomegranate juice diluted with a bit of water makes a healthy “sports drink” that will fuel your brain and body with quickly-sourced, natural sugars.  Take away: Ditch sugary, store-bought sports drinks and power up with the healthy carbohydrates and antioxidants found in pomegranate juice.

Smart Tart Pomegranate Meyer Lemon Spritzer makes a healthy cocktail for New Years Eve or other celebrations.A mocktail featuring pomegranate is the perfect way to ring in 2106 – it’s a tasty toast to your health with no worries about driving home or feeling bad the next day. Shake up your holiday libations with my Smart Tart Pomegranate Meyer Lemon Spritzer, the recipe is simple, has no added sugar and features less acidic Meyer lemons (a hybrid orange-lemon) and the previously mentioned benefits of pomegranate arils and juice — it’s also no coincidence that both these fruits are in peak season as we speak!

Smart Tart Pomegranate Meyer Lemon Spritzer makes a healthy cocktail for New Years Eve or other celebrations.Directions: In large pitcher, pour 2 liters sparkling water and mix in 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice, 4 packets Stevia (more or less to taste), and 4 ounces pomegranate arils (along with any juice in bottom of carton). Serve with thinly sliced Meyer lemon. Serves 8. 

What are you drinking for New Year’s Eve? Do you seed your own pomegranates or buy the packaged arils? 

 

 

5 Easiest Ever Almond Ideas for Holiday Party

Blue Diamond Almonds on treeTime to get serious about last minute holiday preparations; it’s the final countdown to Christmas! I still have some shopping and wrapping to do, cookie baking with the kids, and prepping for my contributions to the huge family feast on Christmas Eve — oh and the brunch I’m hosting on Christmas Day.

Enjoy family movie night with Pop Secret popcorn and this genius container hack for serving up the snack!In between all this, we’re squeezing in a Star Wars movie marathon of past prequels and sequels – even though we’ve seen these classic flicks numerous times, it’ll be good to be fresh for the new Star Wars – The Force Awakens.

So, we’ll need snacks – lots and lots of snacks, and preferably healthy things to nosh and nibble on that won’t make a mess in my media room! Almonds are one of my go-to choices for healthy appetizers and snacks – they punch a nice little pack of protein and are great source of other nutrients, especially iron, vitamins A and C, and dietary fiber. Another great thing about almonds (Blue Diamond Almonds are my favorite) is just how easy they are to incorporate into entertaining.  Today, I’m sharing five fun and easy ways to crunch and much on almonds this holiday season – and into the New Year, too!

  1. Simply eat almonds straight out of the can (or fancy serving bowl). I’ve never seen a soul walk past delicious almonds and not stop to pick up a few! A one-ounce serving (about 23 almonds) pairs perfectly win a light cocktail or glass of sparkling water.Almonds for Holiday Entertaining
  2. This idea is for the kids (of any age) – Almond Lover Gingerbread Men! To keep it easy, use store-bought cookies and simply melt a chocolate chip on one hand (or pipe a dot of frosting) and press down gently with an olive. Use a piping bag filled with frosting to decorate with a little edible bow!Almonds for Holiday EntertainingEasy Almond Lover Gingerbread Men
  3. This is one of my favorite snacks with almonds — Almond Chocolate Apricot Bites! Just layer up the three ingredients (melt the chocolate chip if you want to be fancy so that all the ingredients stick together) and, viola, a yummy 20-calorie treat in mere minutes.20 Calorie Apricot Almond Chocolate Bites
  4. Chocolate Almond Popcorn – could this be easier?! Air pop some kernels and then, while still warm, top with your favorite flavor of Blue Diamond Almonds and chocolate chips. Toss together so the chocolate slightly melts – it’s like being at the movie theater and dumping candy into your big tub, but healthier!Popcorn with Chocolate Chips and Almonds makes a healthy salty-sweet snack!
  5. Almond Lover Cookies are a favorite with my boys and only take a few minutes to whip up a batch and 12 minutes to bake – if short on time, double up a batch the week before and keep in the freezer!jennifer fisher- thefitfork- almond lover cookies

What are your stress-free ways to enjoy almonds, aside from straight out of the can?! Oh, and have you seen the new Star Wars movie yet — just a thumbs up or down, no spoilers! Let me know in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer 

This post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. However, all comments, ideas and enthusiasm are my own. 

All Watermelon, All Summer! Crazy Pool Workout #LivingOnTheWedge

It's all watermelon, all summer at TheFitFork.com! Come visit for healthy recipes, nutrition tips, watermelon workouts, family fun and other ways to make my favorite fruit part of a fit and fun lifestyle!I am so happy that June is here, it’s officially the kickoff to my summer-long binge of watermelon. Those who know me understand and accept that I am a watermelon worshiper and those who are visiting for the first time will quickly come to realize the magnitude of my affection for this fruit. Last year, I celebrated watermelon with a week full of undivided attention and am including those links at the bottom of this post – please visit! This year, I am spreading out the watermelon love with an entire summer of #LivingOnTheWedge – twice a month, I’ll share my best creative and unique ways to make watermelon a part of a fit, flavorful and fabulous lifestyle.

Watermelon Pool Workout #LivingOnTheWedge - TheFitFork.com As crazy as it sounds, today I have a watermelon and am ready to workout. Last year, I shared a WOD using a watermelon in lieu of a medicine ball – this year, I taking the action to the swimming pool so we can all stay cool! In terms of weird and wacky workouts, Prancersize doesn’t have anything on this!  In addition to the graphic, I have a video demo further down (you’ll definitely laugh).

Watermelon Pool Workout #LivingOnTheWedge - TheFitFork.com

A couple great things about exercising in the pool (other than staying cool) are that it’s easy on your joints and offers extra resistance for easy toning and muscle-making! Watermelons come in a variety of sizes, for this workout, I’ve used a seedless watermelon that weighs 30 lbs and a personal-sized watermelon weighing in at 10 lbs — adjust to meet your fitness level.  One of the perks of working out with a watermelon is that you get to EAT the equipment afterward! #EatTheEquipment 

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greased watermelon footballI have another idea for watermelons and large bodies of water! If you’re having a pool party, keep the kids (and grown-ups) thoroughly entertained and active with a game of Greased Watermelon Football.  Just lather up a good-sized melon with petroleum jelly and toss it in the pool. When the whistle blows, everyone jumps in and the first person to emerge on dry land with the watermelon in hand is declared the winner. A greased watermelon, along with its awkward-to-grasp size and a jumble of underwater arms and legs, makes this end goal much harder than it sounds.

After the watermelon water workout and spirited game of greased watermelon football, I’m just going to kick back and relax on my new pool float. How awesome is this — a slice of heaven!Watermelon Pol Float

watermelon pinterest boardRemember to check back all summer to take part in my great big celebration of watermelon – I’ll have posts on picnics, celebrations, special recipes, health benefits, family fun, a giveaway and (maybe the most fun of all) the first-ever running of the Watermelon Mile. I feel like a world record is going to be set! In the meantime, check out my “Living on the Wedge” Watermelon Board on Pinterest filled full with watermelon recipes, facts, health benefits and all the wacky watermelon things that catch my eye. I’d love for you to follow the board and if you have recipes, tips or anything watermelon-related, please follow the instructions to join as a pinner to the group!

 

#LivingOnTheWedge 2014 Posts

Have you ever worked out in a pool workout or used anything “alternative” for an exercise weight? Please share in the comments below! XOXO Jennifer 

The post is sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board. However, the opinions and content (unless otherwise noted) shared are my own and NWPB did not tell me what to say or how to say it.