Workout wisdom: A dietitian’s guide to healthy eating after workouts

Have you ever wondered what the best thing to eat or drink after a workout is? Have you ever thought ok, now that I’ve spent time at the gym I can go eat some junk food? Maybe you want to choose the right foods for yourself after your workout but just aren’t sure what to eat. Well, today I am going to give you the inside scoop on the three most important things your body needs after a workout.

The foods we eat and drink play an important role in giving our body the energy we need before a workout as well as the nutrition needed for recovery afterwards. Whether you train rigorously as an athlete, or do the occasional workout, this article will give you some helpful tips on what to choose for your post workout nutrition.

The first thing you want to make sure you do is replace fluids lost during exercise…..in other words hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Water is always a great option for staying hydrated and replacing the fluids you lose during a workout through sweat.

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Replace Fluids Lost

When you are doing a light or moderate exercise session, water alone can meet you re-hydration needs. The average person does not need more than this. Sports drinks such as Gatorade that have carbohydrates and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) are only indicated  for athletes doing vigorous and sustained physical activities lasting 90 minutes or more.

If you are exercising for general health and/or to lose weight or you are exercising for an hour or less sports drinks are not an appropriate option for you. In addition they are not a good choice as a day to day beverage because they provide an unneeded amount of sugar and sodium.

Consume Carbohydrates and Quality Protein

Glycogen is the energy stored in your muscles to help fuel your workouts. When you exercise, these stores are used and eventually depleted. Carbohydrates are therefore needed after a workout to help replenish the glycogen that was used. Some examples of carbohydrates include fruit, grains such as bread, rice, cereal, pasta, and milk.  

In addition to carbohydrates, you also want to consume a quality protein source to help repair and build muscle tissue after your workouts. Examples of a quality protein include meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and soy. For adults, 10 to 35% of your daily calories should be made up of protein. After a workout, protein needs can be met by using the equation of 0.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

0.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight = your post workout protein needs

*Athletes and people at extreme ends of the weight spectrum may not fit this equation*

For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert it into kilograms (150 lbs divided by 2.2 = 68.2 kilograms). Then multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.3 grams of protein to get the total grams of protein you need for your post workout recovery meal (68.2 kg x 0.3 grams of protein = 20 grams of protein).

Most people are able to get their protein needs from diet alone, but protein powders can be a good alternative when you aren’t able to prepare a balanced meal or snack after your workout.

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To help get you started, here are some ideas on what to eat after a workout.

Post workout nutrition examples:

  • Plain yogurt or low fat cottage cheese with berries
  • 1 cup of chocolate milk
  • A turkey or tuna sandwich wrap made with a whole wheat tortilla, cucumber, spinach, and tomato
  • A smoothie recovery shake made with low fat milk and frozen berries
  • Black bean, tofu, and vegetable chili with a slice of cornbread
  • Stir fry chicken with mixed vegetables and brown rice
Workout Recovery
Chocolate Milk

 

 

Vegetarian Chili and Cornbread
Vegetarian Chili with Cornbread

Timing Is Key

Try to get your post recovery nutrition, whether it is a meal or snack within 2 hours of your workout. If your goal is to build muscle and increase lean muscle mass, aim to have your post workout meal as soon as possible due to current studies suggesting protein consumption for the purpose of increasing muscle mass is greatest immediately after your workout. Keep in mind that higher intake of protein after workouts, for example, greater than 40 grams of dietary protein have not yet been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis.

The next time you workout, remember the three most important things you need afterwards: fluids (water), carbohydrates, and protein. Over the next week, I challenge you to try at least one of my post workout nutrition meals or snacks. Comment below and let me know which ones work best for you.

Until next week.

Royally Yours,

The Diet Duchess

Weight Loss in 2019…..Resolutions for the New Year

The year is coming to a close, and 2019 is just around the corner…..which means New Year’s resolutions aren’t far off. You may have already thought of the list of things that you want to work on in the new year, or maybe you haven’t given it any thought yet.

What I like about creating resolutions is the fact that you are working to better yourself, whether it’s with healthier eating, time management, traveling, weight loss, or anything else in between. Two of the most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight and exercise more. If you have one of these goals for the new year, one of the best ways to be successful with them is to make sure you’re making SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. For example, your SMART goal for the new year could be:

Within six months I will be consistently exercising at least three times a week for 30-45 minutes.

This goal meets all five criterion and is a lot more specific than if you just said your goal in the new year was to exercise more. Being SMART with your goals will help you to be more successful at reaching them. Below I’ve shared with you some dietitian approved tips to be successful with your exercise and weight loss goals in the new year.

Ways to be successful with exercise:

  1. Start small and gradually increase your workout routine. Even 10-15 minute increments of exercise add up and make a difference.
  2. Find something that you love to do. It can be kickboxing, swimming, Zumba, yoga or anything really……. the key is finding something you enjoy. Try a new class or activity if you don’t know what you like. The fact is, if you like your workouts you are more likely to stick with them long-term.
  3. Use the buddy system. Whether you have plans to meet up with a friend to work out, or incorporate physical activity as a part of your family’s lifestyle, there is strength in numbers and accountability in working out with others.
  4. Include both cardio and weight training (for example weight lifting or exercises that use your body weight such as push ups, lunges, and squats) in your workout routine. Both types of exercise are important and offer your body different benefits.

Ways to be successful with weight loss:

  1. Focus on building a healthier lifestyle instead of trying to follow a temporary fad diet. These diets are often very restrictive and practically impossible to maintain long-term. Aim to have your weight loss be healthy and natural.
  2. Try to include veggies and a lean protein such as eggs, tofu, chicken, fish, or turkey with most meals.
  3. Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals can lead to overeating later in the day and can be counterproductive to weight loss.
  4. Limit your intake of sugary drinks such as soda, juice, Gatorade, vitamin water, sweetened iced teas, etc. They are limited in nutrients and high in sugar and excess calories and can easily contribute to extra weight gain.
  5. Allow yourself to have a treat every once in a while. It will satisfy your craving and help you keep on track with your healthy eating by not depriving you. Telling yourself you can never eat your favorite food (for example- ice cream, french fries, or pasta) anymore can be a way to set yourself up for failure.  

There you have it. I hope you found my tips to get you started with your goals in the new year helpful. Like and comment below…..and if you’re feeling really bold, share what some of your resolutions for 2019 are. 

Royally Yours,

The Diet Duchess

Homemade hot cocoa for Christmas

One of my favorite treats around this time of year is a warm cup of hot cocoa. With Christmas just one day away, I thought I would share this tasty homemade hot cocoa recipe with you so you can enjoy it just in time for the holidays. Whether you live somewhere cold, or are somewhere warm like sunny Southern California, this is a tasty and festive treat for all.

Now let me disclose that this homemade hot cocoa recipe is not healthy or modified in any way to be healthier. Following a healthy balanced diet means sometimes enjoying a treat every once in a while, whether that’s french fries, ice cream, or even hot chocolate. The key is eating these less healthy foods that are higher in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium less often and making sure that when you do have them, you keep your portions in check 😉

This was actually my first time making homemade hot cocoa, as I grew up on the instant packets, but like most foods and beverages, I can attest that homemade is definitely better. The recipe is super simple and only took a few minutes to make.

Creamy Hot Cocoa

Christmas cocoa - Edited

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 1/2 cups of milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup half and half cream

Directions:

  1.  Add the cocoa, sugar, and pinch of salt to a saucepan.
  2. Blend in the boiling water and bring the mixture to a boil while you stir (watch to make sure it doesn’t scorch).
  3.  Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes while stirring.
  4. Add in the milk and heat until very hot but not boiling.
  5. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  6. Divide the cocoa between 4 mugs and add the cream equally between them.
  7. Top with marshmallows, whipped cream, and sprinkles as desired and enjoy.
Plain hot cocoa close up - Edited
Plain Hot Cocoa
Marshmallow hot cocoa - Edited
Hot Cocoa with Marshmallows
Whipped cream hot cocoa - Edited
Hot Cocoa with Whipped Cream

 

Hot cocoa aerial view - Edited
Hot Cocoa with All the Fixings

I hope you enjoy this homemade hot cocoa with your loved ones, and wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

A Healthy Spin on the Infamous Egg McMuffin

Have you ever felt guilty after leaving the Mc Donald’s drive through? If so, then you’re not alone. We all have probably been there at some point. Mc Donald’s is quick, convenient, and practically everywhere.

A familiar quick and ready to grab breakfast choice for many Americans is the ever popular Egg McMuffin at McDonald’s. A warm toasted English muffin with a fresh egg, lean Canadian bacon, American cheese, and melted butter…….do I have your mouth watering yet? This classic and tasty breakfast option is simple to make and easy to enjoy.

McDonald’s has a reputation of being notoriously unhealthy, so this week, I’d like to give you some ideas for a healthier spin on the classic Egg McMuffin and how you can make this refreshing breakfast sandwich from home…and best of all, guilt free.

Tip #1 Switch to whole grain

A simple and easy modification that you can make is switching out the white English muffin to a whole wheat one. The whole grain version will offer you more fiber and can help you to stay full longer in between meals. The USDA My Plate model recommends that we make half of our grains whole grains as a part of a healthy diet and to help lower the risk of chronic disease.

Egg Mc Muffin close up - Edited

Tip #2 Add in your favorite veggies

Veggies are an important part of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Adding a serving of veggies to most of your meals is a good way to boost your intake of vitamins and minerals, and keep your calories low. You can simply add spinach to your breakfast sandwich or sauté some of your favorite vegetables. I chose to saute mushrooms and bell peppers, but the sky’s the limit.

Open faced Egg Mc Muffin - Edited (1)

Tip #3 Switch out the American cheese

Processed cheese such as American cheese has twice the amount of sodium as natural cheese, and generally contains additional additives and preservatives. Processed cheese also is usually only made up of around 50 percent real cheese. For a healthier choice than American singles, go with a regular cheese (for example regular low fat cheddar) for a more natural option.

Ok, it’s official, now that you have my 3 tips to making a healthier egg McMuffin, you are ready to start enjoying “Mc Donald’s” right from your house. Give it a try and let me know how it goes by commenting on the post below.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Bake like a boss this holiday season

One of my favorite childhood memories at Christmas is making homemade sugar and gingerbread cookies with my mom and sister each year. The house would be filled with this heavenly aroma of sugary sweetness, and my sister and I would get to apply our inner art skills with joy and grace to every cookie we decorated. Not only do you get to create memories that can last a lifetime when doing your holiday baking, you also get to enjoy the deliciousness that each cookie has to offer. The only downside, there’s a reason why Santa’s waistband is so grandiose. You can’t eat copious amounts of cookies without adding a little extra junk to your trunk.

That’s why this weeks post will give you some ideas on how to bake like a boss this holiday season by cutting the calories in your cookies and other baked goods without compromising their taste.

Christmas baking

Tip 1: Better your brownies

Brownies

Try substituting tofu for half of the fat in your brownie recipe. Now I know many people recoil at the word tofu, but tofu has a neutral taste that is overpowered by the delicious chocolate flavor. In fact, a study done at Idaho State University found that 8 in 10 people liked fudge made with tofu in place of butter. Try substituting pureed silken or soft tofu for half of the fat your brownie recipe calls for. This will cut calories and boost the protein and calcium in your brownies.

You can also reduce the amount of sugar in your brownies by ¼ cup by substituting ⅔ cup of  finely grated fresh beet as recommended by pastry chef Marisa Churchill. The beets will add moisture, natural sweetness, and gives you the opportunity to sneak a little veggie into your brownies.

Tip #2: Keep your cookie portions in check

Cookies

Cookies in sleigh

Cookies up close - EditedUse a smaller portion for your cookies. It may be shocking, but most chocolate chip cookies are 7 times larger than what the USDA recommends for a healthy portion. Making your cookies smaller can help keep your portions in check by reminding you of the appropriate cookie size (use 1 tablespoon to measure out your dough).

Cookie dough

You can also try using 1 cup of mini chocolate chips in exchange for 2 cups of regular chocolate chips. This will cut back  1120 calories and 64 grams of fat but still offer chocolate chips in every bite.

Tip #3 General baking substitutions

White Whole Wheat Flour

A few additional substitutions you can try include substituting all purpose flour for white whole wheat flour. You can substitute the entire flour measurement or even just try half, if you’d like to ease yourself in. White whole wheat flour is lighter than regular whole wheat flour and has a taste that is comparable to all purpose flour. It is a healthier choice because it is a whole grain and will give more fiber to your baked goods.

Applesauce

applesauce - Edited

Using applesauce as a substitution for fat is another great option. Cut the butter in your baking recipe by half and substitute the remainder with  unsweetened applesauce. This will cut the total amount of calories and saturated fat in your recipe, but still keep your baked good tasting delicious.

butter and applesauce

Reduce Sugar

The final general substitution you can make is reducing the sugar in the recipe by 25%. You can generally cut down the sugar by this amount without compromising or changing the taste of your dish. For example if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you can try cutting it down to ¾ C instead.  

I hope these baking tips and substitutions have given you some new inspiration and healthier (but still tasty) alternatives to your holiday baking this year. Comment and like below and don’t forget to share what substitutions you try and which ones work best for you.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

All Hail Kale: 4 Ways This Popular Super Food Can Benefit Your Health

Kale has been a popular topic over the past few years, and for good reason. This leafy green vegetable is jam packed with nutrients and has a handful of health benefits.

Unfortunately kale is not always an instant palate pleaser to everyone. You may have tried it before and felt like Loretta Devine on the Carmichael Show who described kale in the following words, “it’s nasty, that tastes like Christmas tree”. Not to worry. In addition to reviewing some of the great health benefits of kale in this week’s post, I’ll also provide some suggestions on different ways you can include kale in your diet in a tasty way.

First let’s run through some of the health benefits of kale so that you will have some motivation to try it (or for some of you, try it again).

  1. Improved Eyesight

Kale contains the following nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin which can protect your eyes from sunlight damage and can lower the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. Kale is also rich in vitamins A, K, C, and the mineral manganese.

  1. Weight Management

One cup of raw kale contains just 8 calories. This nutrient rich low calorie vegetable can be helpful with weight management and glycemic control. Kale is also a good source of fiber which can aid your body in digestion and give you more satiety with your meals.

Protection Against Disease

  1. Antioxidants

Kale is also rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants work to protect our bodies by fighting free radicals that are known to damage cells and cause diseases such as cancer. Carotenoids, vitamin A, and vitamin C are the main antioxidants found in kale that are fighting to protect your body.

  1. Anti-inflammatory

In addition to functioning as antioxidants, some of these valuable vitamins and nutrients found in kale also offer an anti-inflammatory effect (vitamin C and polyphenols), defending the body against inflammation. Anti-inflammatory foods may be beneficial in the management of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Tasty Ways to Enjoy Kale

There are many different ways you can enjoy this nutritious vegetable. Here are some examples to help get you started.

Saute kale in a little olive oil with garlic, salt, and pepper to taste

  • Mixed in a salad

Eating raw kale will not be appealing to everyone. I therefore suggest using baby kale or lacinato kale due to the softer leaves and milder taste. Additionally, you can try mixing the kale with other greens and lettuce that you are more accustomed to such as spinach or butter lettuce (Do Not eat romaine lettuce right now because of the recall for E.coli) . Due to the bitter flavor of kale, you may also find it helpful to add something sweet to your salad to balance the flavor such as carrots, fresh strawberries, or dried fruit.  

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Strawberry kale salad

 

  • Cooked in a soup or casserole

Often times non starchy vegetables are limited or completely missing in many soup and casserole dishes. This is a great way to add this healthful green to your favorite dish.

Kale Quiche
Kale and onion quiche
  • Blended in a smoothie

Try adding a few leaves of kale into your favorite fruit smoothie. The natural sweetness of the fruit will help even your kids forget that there is a vegetable in their drink.

Kale Smoothie
Fruit smoothie with kale
  • Baked as kale chips

Toss 1 bunch of chopped kale leaves with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt to taste, bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes until the edges of the kale leaves are browned.

Kale chips
Kale chips

There are so many different ways to try and enjoy kale. I hope this week’s post has given you a deeper look into the nutritional value of kale, but more importantly has given you some practical ways to experience the benefits to your health first hand.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Cyber Monday: 5 handy health and fitness gifts to give this holiday

Have you ever felt overwhelmed at the very thought of all the holiday shopping you still have left to do? I know I have.The holidays are filled with fun, joy, and laughter, but also a lot of the time, STRESS!! To help simplify your shopping list this year, and to help save time and money from mailing your Christmas presents at the post office, here are five great health and fitness inspired gifts to get for your loved ones……or even add to your own Christmas wish list.

  1. The Fitbit Alta HR

This activity tracker can monitor your heart rate and measure how many calories you burn each day. Use the different zones (fat burn, cardio, and peak) to match your workout intensity with your fitness and weight loss goals. Track your daily steps and minutes of physical activity. Use this tracker to help you stay motivated in your fitness.

2. Wii fit game with balance board

The Wii fit game (Wii console sold separately) is a great and fun way to get your kids active at home under the guise of playing a video game. It’s a clever way to make fitness more fun for your kids using a medium they already enjoy. A sedentary lifestyle has been one of the big contributors to the obesity epidemic for both adults and children. Get your whole family active this holiday season with the Wii fit.

3. Stainless steel insulated water bottle

I love stainless steel insulated water bottles because they do such a fabulous job of keeping your water cool and refreshing. If you or your loved one have been trying to drink more water or know that you need to, this is a great gift idea. Regardless of the beverage you’ll be putting in the water bottle, it has the capability of keeping cold beverages cold for 24 hours and hot beverages hot for 12 hours. Trust me, after using one of these, you will never want to go back to a regular water bottle.

4.  Instant pot and cookbook

This newly popular device actually features 7 kitchen appliances in 1 including: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker and warmer, saute, and steamer. This is a great way to cook healthy at home meals 70 percent faster to help simplify your already busy lifestyle. You can even cook some dishes by simply adding ingredients to the pot and pushing the appropriate feature (for example- soup, rice, meat/stew, and poultry to name a few). Use the cookbook to try fast, easy, and healthy recipes at home.

5. Air Fryer

The air fryer is a kitchen appliance that fries food with 75 percent less fat than a deep fryer.  Fried foods should be eaten less often due to the higher calorie and saturated fat content, however it’s possible to enjoy fried foods every once in a while and still maintain a healthy lifestyle. Use the air fryer to enjoy warm and crispy french fries straight from your home without the worry of getting off track with your weight loss goals.

I hope this week’s post will make your holiday shopping a little easier and healthier. If you enjoyed this week’s post, please comment and like below.

Until next week,

The Diet Duchess

*This week’s post includes affiliate links*

Healthy holiday hacks: 5 tips to eat healthy this holiday season

The holidays are a joyous time of year filled with family gatherings, annual traditions, and let’s not forget the fabulous food!! I myself get excited every time the holidays roll around each year. 

Another less fortunate trend of the holiday season is found in expanding waistlines. The Calorie Control Council estimates the average holiday meal has 3,000 calories, and this is without even including the additional calories consumed in appetizers and drinks. On average Americans experience 1 to 2 pounds of uninvited weight gain during the holidays. That amount may seem pretty insignificant but when you have an extra pound or two creeping on each year and compounding year after year, before you know it you’re ten pounds heavier and can no longer fit into your favorite pair of jeans.

Not to worry, this week’s post will give you a few simple tips to keep you on track with your healthy eating during the holidays and still allow you to enjoy a little pie.

Holiday tip # 1 Don’t skip breakfast

I myself have been guilty of skipping breakfast on Thanksgiving in the past. I used to think that since I knew I would be eating a large feast later in the day I should skip my food intake in the morning. What can actually happen when we skip or miss meals though, is we end up overeating later on. Research even shows that people who eat breakfast actually eat fewer calories throughout the day. Therefore an easy way to reduce the amount of calories you eat at Thanksgiving is by making sure you include breakfast. It truly is important and can set the tone for your whole day. Eating breakfast has also been found to be a common denominator of people who have been able to successfully maintain their weight loss.

Holiday tip # 2 Downsize the carbs

Holiday feasts are usually full of carbs galore with everything from mashed potatoes, dressing, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, bread rolls, and macaroni and cheese to name a few. No wonder it’s easy to overdo it in the carbs department. Carbohydrates are not bad, it’s just when we eat them in excess that things become problematic. Aim to limit your portion of carbs and starches to just 1/4 of your plate. This will help you to get a more balanced meal and allow more room on your plate for non starchy vegetables. Try adding some of these tasty veggie dishes to your holiday spread:

Thanksgiving Salad

Holiday tip # 3 Include activity in your family celebration

To help balance out some of the extra calories you’re bound to consume during the holiday season, make an effort to do something active the day of your family get together. You can try going for a morning hike, playing an afternoon game of football, or even have a dance battle on Nintendo Wii. The most important thing is to find a physical activity that you and your family can enjoy together.

Holiday tip # 4 Take leftovers to go

Remember that there are always ample leftovers at Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that you don’t have to have heaping portions, or even a bite of every dish the day of. Stick to modest portion sizes knowing that you can have more at a later meal or even later on in the week.

Holiday tip # 5 Be mindful of your portions

Portions have drastically increased over the years which has contributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States. Cut back on your portions to lower your overall calorie intake. Even a small sliver of pie can satisfy your craving for holiday sweets. Eat slowly and savor your bites so that you can enjoy the fall flavors of your meal. Choosing a smaller plate can also help you keep your portions in check.

Hopefully these 5 tips for healthy eating during the holidays help you to finish your holiday guilt free and thankful for finding the right balance in the most indulgent meal of the year.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Welcome Blog Post

 

I remember how it was for me before I got my nutrition degree, there were so many different sources of diet information, it was difficult to decipher what was valid and who to trust. There are constantly new fad diets and different weight loss products hitting the market promising miraculous weight loss and health benefits, but it can be extremely difficult knowing what’s true and where to invest your money.

When I was still doing my general education courses in college, I tried the maple syrup diet master cleanse where you literally have no food to eat and only drink this concoction of maple syrup, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and water. Isn’t it amazing the crazy things we will do in the name of weight loss? Suffice it to say, I wasn’t able to do this for a very long period of time despite my best efforts and it definitely didn’t help me to eat any healthier. If anything I think it was harmful to my relationship with food (along with other dieting approaches) with the yo-yoing back and forth between restriction and indulgence.  

As you can see from my personal story, I have been just where you are, desperate to try any diet or miracle supplement that will help you to lose weight. Don’t beat yourself up. Some of the promises and results of  the many different fad diets and weight loss products can be enticing. The US weight loss market is a 66 billion dollar industry, and I personally have invested money into different products over the years, but with no long term success or practical understanding of how to eat healthy.

Various research articles have shown that one of the common trends of fad dieting is the weight regain afterwards. Fad diets are usually too good to be true. Think of it this way, if the new diet you’re planning on trying is offering a quick fix or is cutting out major food groups, it’s not likely going to be something that you can maintain long term. Your success therefore, will be short lived.

If you are ready to let go of temporary solutions to your lifelong goal of healthy eating and weight management, then follow my blog, The Diet Duchess, each week for a new nutrition topic to help you better understand how to gradually modify your eating behaviors and build your way towards a healthier lifestyle. I am excited to share my passion and professional expertise with you to help you achieve your diet and weight loss goals. Stay tuned as we begin our journey together to “royally rock your diet”.

Estrella, MS, Registered Dietitian

“The Diet Duchess”  

Continue reading “Welcome Blog Post”