Today, I’m sharing some of the things that are gearing me up and fueling me through the fun! Continue reading
Trendy vegetables come and go, but carrots are a perennially popular pick in the produce department! I’m a non-discriminating vegetable lover and would never suggest kicking kale to the curb or saying bye-bye to beets, but these veggies, among other others, have enjoyed more than their fair share of time in the proverbial sun and now seem to be wilting away. But, let’s not forget about the tried-and-true carrot!
All ages and all stages love carrots. Babies spoon up pureed carrots, kids munch on crunchy carrot sticks, and even finickiest of foodies can find a gourmet carrot recipe to delight. Thanks to a host of health benefits and an easy-to-pack profile, this enduring edible also makes the perfect superfood for all types of athletes including runners, triathletes, football players, CrossFitters and other sporty types. Plus, carrots are filling but are low in calories, with only about 50 calories for a cup of carrot slices or 5-ounces of baby carrots. If still questioning how carrots can help your athletic performance and need some great carrot recipes, read on:
I am a female athlete, hear me roar! I love the strength, power and grace shown by women in sports, and believe, in many ways, female athletes are superior to men. Now, don’t get your panties in a wad, gentlemen – obviously you have an arsenal of strengths including sheer muscle volume and all the testosterone stuff. I’m not arguing a 100lb female can beat a 200lb guy in an arm wrestle, so don’t challenge me please! Despite a woman’s brain wiring, body composition and hormones being very different to a man’s, she can still be very successful in sports. We women are naturals at teamwork, multi-tasking and making less impulsive decisions. Women also have a different muscle-to-fat composition which, in general, can help spare glycogen in endurance events, and some of our hormones, like estrogen, have been shown to make us stronger in adverse conditions
However, every once in a while, my female ROAR is a little weak – namely on those days when I’m suffering from Pre Menstrual Syndrome. So, #LetsTalkPMS . . . The fatigue, muscle aches, bloating, sore chest, irregularity and mood swings the week before my period starts can take the attack factor out of my workout schedule if I’m not proactive. Thankfully, I have been spared many instances of PMS as I haven’t had my period on a regular basis in 25 years between long-term bouts of amenorrhea, pregnancies/nursing and now middle age (sorry if TMI). So while my periods usually can’t be planned for, they also aren’t completely unexpected – because of the annoying PMS reminder!
While female hormones might not always be fun ,the are definitely functions — I mean, sheeze, we make a baby! The level of hormones in the female body during different parts of the cycle also play a factor in the metabolism of carbohydrate, fat, and protein, blood plasma volume, and tolerance to heat – all of these are important factors in many sports. Ironically, while the week or so leading up to your period may have you feeling super PMS-y, this “low hormone” stage is considered by many experts to be optimal for female athletic performance. But, you have to manage the physical and mental challenges of PMS and kick them in the buttt!
Now, if I wasn’t into running, CrossFit, yoga, lifting weights and so many other sports, I would probably be caught completely off guard by my infrequent visit rom Aunt Flow. However, there’s something about being a competitive athlete that I believe keeps a woman more in tune with her body, and therefore more likely to notice the onset of PMS symptoms. Oh, and I know!
Since I don’t like to take time off from training or use prescription medications except when life-or-death necessary, I have looked for natural ways to treat PMS. One of the natural products I really like is Jayde from IntraNaturals. Jayde Natural Pain Relief is “100% Herbal Happiness for Women During their Menstrual Period” that may help soothe cramps, relieve muscle aches, and ease general discomfort.
The natural ingredients in Jayde include Cramp Bark, Turmeric Curcumin, Boswellia, and Bromelian—all inspired by the ancient healing powders of Ayurvedic herbs. The only herbal ingredient I wasn’t familiar with was Cramp Bark – so I reached out for more information. Cramp Bark is a smooth muscle relaxant with similar properties to valerian that targets the uterus specifically to reduce inflammation. It may help lessen ovarian and uterine cramps both before and during menstruation.
As a disclaimer, the benefits statements of Jaye have not been evaluated by the FDA but, my experience with this natural solution to PMS has been nothing but “thumbs up,” – plus the capsules are easy to take once or twice a day as needed. Additionally, Jadye is vegan, nonGMO, gluten-free, soy-free and comes with a 100% Lifetime Guarantee. This promise of quality means that if you should become dissatisfied with the product at any time, the company will gladly offer a full refund.
This is another amazing reason to love Jayde and IntraNaturals! With every order, IntraNaturals donates to their non-profit partner, Vitamin Angels, in order to provide life-changing nutrition to children in need (40,000 kids/women helped through their donation last year). Through this program, children and pregnant mothers without adequate access to important nutrients needed for optimal health are provided life-changing vitamins. While I’m over here freaking out my PMS symptoms (honestly, pretty trivial in the scheme of world health), others don’t even have the basic vitamins they need to thrive . . . or survive. So, I feel twice blessed knowing I have the means to take care of ALL my health concerns while helping children and pregnant mothers much, much less fortunate.
Do you avoid working out when you have PMS or your period? What is your worst symptom? Share in the comments if you care to – XOXO, Jennifer
Thank you to IntraNaturals for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.
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!
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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!
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.
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!
Additionally, 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
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This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of NOW Foods.
Over here to the left, a couple of the protein powders that started my love affair with NOW Foods. Oh, and their food lines is amazing and so many of their products, from BetterStevia™ (it really is better) to gourmet, small-batch Ellyndale Foods™ to , are the foundation for many of my healthy recipes on the blog including my Kiwi, Apricot and Feta Salad with Hemp Honey Dressing (I used their organic hemp seeds and avocado oil for this yummy summer dish). Also, the Living Now™ line up is has a nice variety of tasty, junk-free products that make it easier and more convenient to keep a gluten-free diet. We also had an interesting and informative “oil tasting” led by the adorable and talented Executive Chef in their corporate test kitchen. Apparently, there is a proper way to appreciate the flavor of oils (think wine tasting) and I slurped in little bits of various oils one at a time, from pumpkin seed and almond to olive and sesame, and let them slowly wash over my tongue! At the end of this taste-test, I have very moist lips as a whipped up a homemade berry salad dressing using the macadamia nut oil. We also made to-go salads for our travel home that day and packed our jars from a rainbow array of produce, nuts and healthy grains – of course, I went straight to the Organic Tri-Colored Quinoa from NOW Real Food™ , one of my favorites ( because, when meat isn’t on the menu, this near-celebrity-status seed offers a complete amino acid chain). 2) NOW products are a blessing for my body and budget Now Foods products are both affordable AND high-quality — gasp, I know! These two factors are important to so many of us trying to live, role model and share our passion for the “fit life.” It’s such a common assumption in the natural health food and supplement industry that the more expensive, the better — not so! In fact, many times (not always), an expensive product is actually quite cheap in quality and just jacked up with a big marketing budget. But NOW Foods never tries to trick you into thinking that you’re getting something you’re not. They don’t waste money (which is ultimately your $) on overkill advertising because they are confident that their products always stand up to the test – literally!
Just one example, I can get NOW Whey Protein Isolate for double the amount for half the price (okay, that’s a generalization, but the point is it’s a very good deal) as many other brands I’ve tried – plus the macros are spot on in my opinion, as opposed to many of the other protein powder options out there. Same goes for product after product in their collection of hundreds (if not thousands) of different items. NOW also maintains a highly efficient, low-error operations facility that helps keep costs down. And, because NOW is privately-owned, they don’t have to jack up prices to please profit-margin focused shareholders – actually, NOW wants to please YOU, even if that means a little less moola in their own pockets 3) NOW Tests to be the Best
So what did I just mean when I just said in #2 that “products always stand up to the test”? I mean that NOW is highly committed to quality and bringing you the cleanest, safest products. Their 263,000 square foot facility is widely regarded as one of the most scientifically-advanced in the natural products industry. The $40+ million lab of this privately-owned company is simply amazing and is nearly unmatched both nationally and world-wide. I could tell from the giddy grins on the otherwise serious chemists, bio-scientists and other laboratory professionals’ faces that the NOW lab was THE place to be. Not only does NOW test the quality of their finished products, but they also monitor and maintain quality all through the entire manufacturing process which starts with product development and receiving raw ingredients from vendors and ends with storing in appropriate thermostatically-controlled environments and shipping out from a precision-inspired, highly-streamlined warehouse. They also keep samples from each batch of products for a lengthy six years to ensure that if there ever is a problem, they can identify and correct immediately. I really appreciate that NOW is very transparent about the make-up of their natural products, ingredient lists and macros for nearly everything on their website. Plus, with all this testing I’ve described – I am 100% confident I’m getting what’s sold. Plus, they stand by their products if there ever is a rare, rare, rare exception. The overwhelming majority of NOW products certified organic and non-GMO, those few that aren’t are always in the pipeline to meet those standards as soon as viable in the ingredient sourcing process. Feel free to read more about the Must Use Ingredients and Must NEVER Use Ingredients. Join the twitter chat on June 16th (9PM EST) to learn get into the conversation — follow @NOWfoodsand #NOWgetfit Enter my giveaway for a huge haul of NOW products, the same two huge bags of items they sent me home with! It’s so much stuff, I can’t even describe it all – but it’s a bit of everything (probably $200+ at least) and you won’t be disappointed! USA only! Thank you FitFulFocus.com for the photo of loot, because I was so excited to try everything that I forgot to snap a pic! Don’t miss #NOWGetFit Twitter Party 6/16 9pm EST w/ me @NowFoods and @Fitfluential #ad a Rafflecopter giveaway
Eating almonds may boost athletic endurance, or so says a recent study published the Journal of International Sports Nutrition. Professional cyclists in the study snacked on either almonds or cookies over the course of four weeks. At the conclusion, almond eaters made the most improvements on bike time trials and researchers concluded that eating almonds helped mobilize more previously reserved carbohydrates rather than breaking down fat as an energy source during intense exercise. To put it simply, almonds are a food for superheros on the course — you may not BONK or HIT THE WALL (as quickly) is you’ve noshed on some almonds leading up to and during intense exercise like long runs, Spartan races, triathlons, ultra marathons and more. Almonds are also a great source of energy-boosting manganese and copper, minerals which minimize the damage free radicals can do to the mitochondria that power our cells and also help keep electrolyte levels in check. Salty almonds, yum!
A 1-ounce serving of almonds (about 23 almonds, a handful or ¼ cup) has 6g protein, 4g fiber, heart-healthy fats, and lots of vitamin E and other important nutrients – and 163 calories (much less than a candy bar).
Another thing I appreciate about almonds? Almonds are super portable and can go anywhere – toss a handful in a little container and stick in your purse, gym bag, backpack or race belt.
Sometimes I get “fancy” with almonds and use them in a recipe, here is one of my favorites that is perfect for on-the-go snacking!
Oh, FYI, I just wanted to know that I’m now sharing my recipe on as a publisher on Yummly, visit my Yummly Page! Also, use the Yum button below (in the bar of share buttons) to save my recipes to your personal recipe box on Yummly. If you’re not familiar with Yummly, you should be — it’s a huge recipe database that not only features a digital recipe box for you to save your favorites but also recipe recommendations, shopping lists, and supporting Iphone and Android apps to help you with meal ideas on the go!
Are you an almond eater? What is your favorite nut? Who your favorite superhero? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
The start of the school year has always been the unofficial kick-off of my marathon training. Even though Austin is still in the dog days of summer, with temperatures over 100 degrees, I will start upping mileage and long speed intervals, be mindful of my hydration needs and stock up on one of my favorite protein bars as I ready up for the San Antonio Marathon on December 6th.
As I hinted, hydration is so important, but I also insist on eating a protein snack after a long run or intense effort workout, like running 800 meter or mile intervals. Research study after research study has shown that consumeing a protein-rich snack after hard workouts is vital to protein syntheses, and a must-do if you want to repair taxed muscle tissue, increase strength and recover faster.
Perfectly Simple protein bars by ZonePerfect are a great solution for me, each tasty on the go snack offers about 10 – 11 grams protein and around 200 calories or less, the perfect post-workout fuel for me to #FeelGooder until I can follow up with a full-on clean meal. I love how these protein bars embrace the “less is more” approach to life – the company is super-picky about the ingredients they choose to ensure a simple yet tasty feel-good healthy snack.
Even if you’re not working out, a protien-rich healthy snack, like a protein bar, helps you feel fuller, longer – which means you won’t be grabbing a handful of M&Ms every time you walk by the community candy jar (okay, I’m talking about myself here).
Right now, if you visit ZonePerfect Perfectly Simple, you can get a $1 off coupon for a box of these nutrition bars. Right now, there are four delicious flavors (five protein bars per box) including Almond Toffee Crunch, Bing Cherry & Almond , Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk, and Roasted Cashew & Dark Chocolate.
So, are you ready for the 800 meter workout – it’s a doozy. There is just no arguing that the muscle fatigue, lactic acid build up and special brand of pain that comes with knocking off a bunch of 800s sucks, but if you’re getting ready for a marathon, it’s time to embrace that suck. Am I right? Plus, 800s can be used as a loose guideline to predicting your marathon time — just google Bart Yasso’s Yasso 800s. Basically the gist is that you work your way up to 10 800s in a session, keeping them as close in time as possible (a second or two flux is okay). The resulting average 800 time can be extrapolated to be your marathon time – eg: average 3:00 minute 800s equals a 3 hour marathon, 3:30 minute 800s equals a 3:30 marathon, and so on. My workout is a little different, but still great for a marathon.
My 800 Meter Challenge workout won’t take you all the way up to the 10 full half-mile laps, but it will get you strong enough to eventually get there! Enjoy.
Don’t forget to check out ZonePerfect Perfectly Simple Nutrition Bars to grab your $1 off coupon for a box of these delicious protein bars.
Do you incorporate speed workouts into your trainjing? Do you have a go-to interval workout for marathon season? I like cashew and chocolate – what two flavors would make the best bar for you? Please share in the comments below – XOXO — Jennifer
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Bowflex Body.
Anytime someone says creamy, indulgent-tasting shakes are good for me, they have my rapt attention. That’s why I was ready to find out more about Bowflex Body, a line of premium nutrition products that inludes a vanilla fitness shake mix along with “boosters” (including chocolate) to mix in depending on my protein, energy, or fat-burning needs for the day.
As a meal replacement option, the Premium Vanilla Fitness Shake (with booster or not) is a convenient and safe way to ensure most of us are getting the optimal nutrition needed to power through until the next meal. I’ve swapped out a shake for a full meal at lunch or dinner a few times a week and had great results in leaning out. But, typically getting lean and dieting for weight loss is not an issue for me, often I’m trying to fill in the gaps in my day where I need extra quality calories (without the junk) – like after a workout or before bed.
These easy-to-make shakes have become a staple in my post-workout nutrition plan. It’s so important to take in a protein-rich mini-meal within 30 minute of an intense workout or long run. It’s also key that that the meal or shake have a bit of carbohydrates to help the body efficiently process the protein – Bowflex Body makes it so easy! After finishing the “Murph” CrossFit WOD (1 mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 pushups 300 squats and a final 1 mile run) on Memorial Day, I knew my muscles were going to be screaming for some tasty TLC. I brought along my mixer filled with a scoop of the Premium Vanilla Fitness Shake along with the Rich Chocolate Booster AND the Peanut Butter Protein Booster. I’m greedy like that!
Start Shaking It Up, Here’s How:
Premium Vanilla Fitness Shake: Start with this powdered mix as your base and blend into water or your milk of choice. The instructions say use 8 ounces of liquid, but I’ve used 8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk and 8 ounces of water and it still tastes great (and my mind thinks I’m getting more). You can also throw a scoop into morning or post-workout smoothie if you like frozen beverages. Not only does it taste super creamy and delicious, but for just 125 calories, you get 15g high quality protein, 5 g prebiotic fiber, only 5g sugar and 16 potent antioxidants including acai, goji, pomegranate, mangosteen, spinach, kale and more. It is also lactose free, soy free, low sodium and low fat.
Rich Chocolate Booster for Fat Burning: Toss in one of these 10-calorie packets to kick up your metabolism with Garcinia cambogia, green coffee bean, African mango and cocoa exacts.
Peanut Butter Booster for Muscle Management: Add a packet of this booster to help grow, maintain and provide workout recovery benefits to your muscles. This advanced protein formula gives you an additional 10g on top of the 15g already in each serving of shake.
Mixed Berry Booster for Extra Antioxidant Benefits: This refreshing mix-in gives the already vitamin and antioxidant-loaded vanilla shake an extra one-two punch of protection with blueberry, raspberry and strawberry extracts blended to help fight free radicals.
Two BowFlex Body Energy Products worth checking out:
Berry Pomegranate Pre-Energy: This tasty mix gets you revved up for your workout without the crash of sugar-loaded coffee or energy drinks. It works great for either aerobic or anaerobic activity and has just 80 mg of caffeine with theanine, an amino acid from green tea that helps prevent caffeine jitters and “crash.”
Passion Fruit Daily Energy: Designed to take every day, if needed, this formulation helps with focus, aerobic performance and sustained energy when you need a little extra oomph! Like the Pre-Energy formula this Daily Energy has jitter- and-crash free caffeine from the amino acid theanine found in green tea – just less at 50mg.
You really need to try Bowflex Body nutrition products yourself to discover the fat-burning, health-boosting benefits I’m raving about. Use the discount code BOWFLEXSHAKE to receive 20% off your order along with free shipping and handling. A sampler pack is also available. Bowflex has a 30-day, 100% guarantee on their products, so you really don’t have anything to lose — except maybe that muffin top or a bad case of the “hangres”! Get more details on the ingredients used in these fitness products and check out the FAQ for answers to common questions. Also, visit BowFlex Body on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and connect — they also have a great blog.
Also, I am sharing a bodyweight “leg day” exercise that you can do anywhere, no gym required. Have fun!
What “Booster” benefit are you most interested in — burning fat, increasting protein, or upping antioxidants? What is your favorite bodyweight leg exercise? Please share in the comments! xoxo Jennifer