June 2017 - Studio ME Fitness

June 2017

5 Healthy Snacks

Five Healthy Snacks You Will Love

 

The words “weight-loss” and “snacks” often appear in the same sentence.

 

But that might also bring thoughts of “tasteless,” “cardboard,” and “completely unsatisfying.”

 

Right?

 

Let me give you my best weight-loss friendly snacks that aren’t just nutritious but also delicious!

 

What’s my criteria you ask?

 

They have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way;  foods that contain protein and/or fibre.

 

 

1 – Nuts

 

It’s true – nuts contain calories and fat, but they are NOT fattening!

 

Well, I’m not talking about the “honey roasted” ones, of course. Those probably are fattening.

 

Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner.

 

 

By the way, nuts also contain protein and fiber, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.

 

Did you know that almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism!

 

 

Tip: Put a handful of unsalted/unsweetened nuts into a small container and throw it in your purse or bag.

 

2 – Fresh Fruit

 

As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (I’m sure you’re not too surprised!)

 

Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (I’m not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain a fair bit of water and fiber; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories.

 

 

Fiber is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the “satiety factor”) but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious “blood sugar spike.”

 

 

Win-win!

 

Try a variety of fruit (apples, pears, berries, etc.) and pair that with a handful of nuts.

 

Tip: Can’t do fresh? Try frozen. Plus, they’re already chopped for you.

 

 

3 – Chia seeds

 

This is one of my personal favourites…

 

Chia is not only high in fibre (I mean HIGH in fibre), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes THOSE omega-3s!). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.

 

 

Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?

 

They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up).

 

Tip: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of nut milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, and/or cinnamon and enjoy!

 

4 – Boiled or poached eggs

 

Eggs are packed with nutrition and most of it is in the yolk.

 

 

They contain a lot of high-quality protein and a good amount of vitamins and minerals.

 

 

And recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk.

 

 

Yup, you read that right!

 

Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack!

 

5 – Vegetables

 

I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.

 

Veggies contain fibre and water to help fill you up, and you don’t need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?

 

You can easily open a bag of baby carrots and/or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized).

 

Tip: Use a bit of dip. Have you put almond butter on celery? How about trying my new hummus recipe below?

 

Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. Prepare them the night before if you need to. They will not be “tasteless,” like “cardboard,” or “completely unsatisfying.” Trust me.

 

 

Recipe (Vegetable Dip): Hummus

Makes about 2 cups

1  can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed

⅓ cup tahini

1 garlic clove

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 dash salt

1 dash pepper

 

 

  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to thin it out with a bit of water, so add it 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time and blend.

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: Don’t like sesame? Use an avocado in place of the tahini, and olive oil in place of the sesame oil.

 

 

 

References:

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-most-weight-loss-friendly-foods/

https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/almonds/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/almonds/

https://authoritynutrition.com/is-fruit-good-or-bad-for-your-health/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/best-fruits-diabetics/

https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/apples/

https://authoritynutrition.com/fresh-vs-frozen-fruit-and-vegetables/

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/eggs/

Member Spotlight

“When I moved to Minneapolis in January of last year from Williamsburg, Virginia, I didn’t really know what to do with myself in Minnesota winters. I found myself going to work, going to happy hour, and watching TV. It was also a bit of an adjustment switching from walking around a college campus to sitting at a desk all day. I could feel myself becoming more and more lethargic. One day my mom told me: “You’ve got to start working out regularly, it’ll make you feel so much better”. I fought this idea for a few weeks because I was not a huge fan of gyms… or working out, but eventually decided that it could be a great place to get out of my apartment and meet people and to get into shape.
I eventually started researching small gyms in the city, and decided to try Studio ME. After my first class at Studio ME, I was hooked. The class sizes were just right, I could get personalized attention but the focus wouldn’t all be on me, and everyone is so incredibly friendly! Plus, I could tell that I was getting a good workout. After my first TRX class, I could barely walk and definitely could not lift my arms above my head. And it was amazing.
Since I’ve joined, I’ve seen such incredible results. I’ve called my family multiple times just to tell them about a new PR I’ve hit on the water rower or if moved up in weights in Kettlebell. But it’s not just the noticeable changes during class, it’s the daily changes as well. I don’t crave the sugary foods as much and if I sit for more than an hour straight I get super fidgety and HAVE to move. I even notice that walking is easier, which I definitely did not think was a thing.
Studio ME has definitely changed my life for the better. My lifestyle is drastically healthier and I am so much happier since joining. The instructors and crew are such incredible people, encouraging and never-judging. I’m excited to be a part of this amazing community!”

 

Can My Symptoms Actually Be a Food Intolerance?

Food intolerances or “sensitivities” can affect you in so many ways.

 

And they’re a lot more common than most people think.

 

I’m not talking about anaphylaxis or immediate allergic reactions that involve an immune response. Those can be serious and life-threatening.  If you have any allergies, you need to steer clear of any traces of foods you are allergic to, and speak with your doctor or pharmacist about emergency medication, if necessary.

 

What I’m talking about, is an intolerance, meaning you do not tolerate a specific food very well and it causes immediate or chronic symptoms anywhere in the body. Symptoms can take hours or even days to show themselves. And symptoms can be located just about anywhere in the body.

 

This is what makes them so tricky to identify.

 

Symptoms of food intolerances

 

There are some common food intolerances that have immediate and terribly painful gastrointestinal symptoms, such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease. These can cause stomach pain, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea;  symptoms can start immediately after eating lactose or gluten.

 

On the other hand, other more insidious symptoms may not be linked to foods in an obvious way.

 

Symptoms like:

 

  • Chronic muscle or joint pain

 

  • Sweating, or increased heart rate or blood pressure

 

  • Headaches or migraines

 

  • Exhaustion after a good night’s sleep

 

  • Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s or rheumatoid arthritis

 

  • Rashes or eczema

 

  • Inability to concentrate or feeling like your brain is “foggy”

 

  • Shortness of breath

 

If your body has trouble digesting specific foods, it can affect your hormones, metabolism, or even cause inflammation and result in any of the symptoms listed above. And these can affect any (or all) parts of the body, not just your gastrointestinal system.

 

 

How to prevent these intolerances

 

The main thing you can do is to figure out which foods or drinks you may be reacting to and stop ingesting them.

 

I know, I know…this sounds so simple, and yet it can be SO HARD.

 

The best way to identify your food/drink triggers is to eliminate them.

 

Yup, get rid of those offending foods/drinks. All traces of them, for three full weeks and monitor your symptoms.

 

If things get better, then you need to decide whether it’s worth it to stop ingesting them, or if you want to slowly introduce them back one at a time while still looking out to see if/when symptoms return.

 

Start Here: Two common food intolerances

 

Here are two of the most common triggers of food intolerances:

 

  • Lactose (in dairy – eliminate altogether, or look for a “lactose-free” label – try nut or coconut milk instead).

 

  • Gluten (in wheat, rye, and other common grains – look for a “gluten-free” label – try gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa & gluten-free oats).

 

 

This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a good place to start because lactose intolerance is thought to affect up to 75% of people, while “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” can affect up to 13% of people.

 

So, if you can eliminate all traces of lactose and gluten for three weeks, it can confirm whether either or both of these, are a source of your symptoms.

 

Yes, dairy and grains are a part of many government-recommended food guidelines, but you absolutely can get all of the nutrients you need if you focus on replacing them with nutrient-dense foods.

 

A reliable way to monitor how you feel after eating certain foods is to track it. After every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate, and any symptoms so you can more easily spot trends.

 

And, as mentioned earlier, symptoms may not start immediately following a meal. You may find, for example, that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating bananas.

 

You might be surprised what links you can find if you track your food and symptoms well!

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you eliminate something, you need to make sure it’s not hiding in other foods, or the whole point of eliminating it for a few weeks is lost. Restaurant food, packaged foods, and sauces or dressings are notorious for adding ingredients that you’d never think are there. You know that sugar hides in almost everything, but did you also know that wheat is often added to processed meats and soy sauce, and lactose can even be found in some medications or supplements?

 

When in doubt you HAVE to ask the server in a restaurant about hidden ingredients, read labels, and consider cooking from scratch.

 

What if it doesn’t work?

 

If eliminating these two common food intolerances doesn’t work, then you can go one step further to eliminate all dairy (even lactose-free) and all grains (even gluten-free) for three weeks.

 

You may need to see a qualified healthcare practitioner for help, and that’s OK. I don’t want you to continue suffering if you don’t need to!

 

Recipe (dairy-free milk): Homemade Nut/Seed Milk

Makes 3 cups

½ cup raw nuts/seeds (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds)

2 cups water

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

  1. Soak nuts/seeds for about 8 hours (optional, but recommended).
  2. Dump soaking water & rinse nuts/seeds.
  3. Add soaked nuts/seeds and 2 cups water to a high-speed blender and blend on high for about one minute until very smooth.
  4. Strain through a small mesh sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Squeeze if necessary.

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: You can double the recipe and store the milk in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.

 

References:

 

http://www.dietvsdisease.org/11-warning-signs-you-have-a-food-intolerance/

https://authoritynutrition.com/lactose-intolerance-101/

https://authoritynutrition.com/signs-you-are-gluten-intolerant/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/food-sensitivities-health-infographic

Digestive Enzymes

All About Digestive Enzymes

 

Not everyone should be taking digestive enzyme supplements; and not all of them are created equal.

 

I find that many people with digestive issues want to jump straight into using a supplement. And many times I would rather try other strategies first. Not to mention, that some supplements can be harmful if used inappropriately.

 

So, let’s dive into a few of the common digestive enzymes, what they do, and who should NOT take them.

 

What are digestive enzymes?

 

Technically, “enzymes” are compounds that help critical biochemical reactions to happen in your body. These reactions can be anything, from making neurotransmitters like serotonin, to burning food for energy, to breaking down food we eat into smaller pieces that our guts can absorb.

 

Oh, and they all end with “ase”.

 

As I just hinted, “digestive enzymes” are specifically those enzymes we use for digestion. They’re enzymes that our digestive system naturally makes and secretes when we eat.

 

Now, all of the “macronutrients” we eat (carbs, protein & fat) need to be broken down into their individual (smaller) parts so that we can properly absorb and digest them. They’re just too big otherwise, and if we don’t absorb them properly, we can get symptoms of fatigue, malnutrition, digestive distress, or a host of other symptoms.

 

It is these individual (smaller) parts that our body amazingly rearranges and uses to create other larger molecules that our body needs.

 

The most common digestive enzymes you’ll see on product labels are:

 

  • Amylase – Helps to break down starch into its sugars.
  • alpha-Galactosidase – Helps to break down specific “fermentable carbohydrates” into its sugars.
  • Lactase – Helps to break down lactose into its sugars.
  • Protease – Helps to break down protein into its amino acids.
  • Bromelain and/or Papain – Help to break down protein into its amino acids.
  • Lipase – Helps to break down fats into its lipids.

 

Who should consider taking digestive enzymes?

 

I would always recommend that you see a qualified health care practitioner for an expert opinion on whether your issues can be related to digestion, and which, if any, supplements can help you.

 

In general, the most common digestive symptoms that enzymes *may* help with are bloating, cramping, and/or diarrhea. Particularly if it happens after eating certain foods (think lactose-intolerance symptoms after eating dairy).

 

One reason for these symptoms can be that food particles are not broken down properly, and the larger pieces travel further down the digestive tract to the microbiota where those little critters start breaking them down themselves. And this is definitely troublesome for certain people.

 

Don’t get me wrong, a healthy gut microbiota is absolutely essential for good health. And more and more research is showing just how it can affect not only our digestion, but also our immune system, and even our mood.

 

What do I need to know? – Medical conditions

 

Of course, you should read the label of any products you take, and take them as directed, especially if they’re not specifically recommended for you by your health care practitioner who knows your history.

 

Here are two critical things to be aware of:

 

1 – Digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates into sugars are not recommended for diabetics, or pregnant/breastfeeding women.
This is because taking them breaks down more carbohydrates into sugars than your body normally would; so, anyone at risk of blood sugar issues should take caution.

 

2 – When it comes to enzymes that break down proteins into amino acids, there are a few people who should avoid them because of potential interactions. That is if you have an ulcer, or are taking blood-thinners or anti-inflammatories, or if you’re having surgery.

 

The reason is because the digestive enzymes that break down protein are thought to cause or worsen ulcers, as well as have the ability to “thin” the blood and prevent normal clotting.

 

What do I need to know? – Possible Side effects

 

Using digestive enzyme supplements for a prolonged period of time may well justify an appointment with a knowledgeable practitioner. There may be strategies other than daily supplementation that can serve you better.

 

If you find that your symptoms get worse, or even if they don’t get better, you should probably stop using them.

Allergies are always a possibility, so if you know or suspect you’re allergic, then you should avoid them.

And, as always, keep supplements away from children.

 

Before considering a digestive enzyme supplement

 

You shouldn’t just jump to supplementing with digestive enzymes without a proper diagnosis, or trying a few strategies first.

 

My first recommendation for digestive distress would be to relax more, eat slower, and chew more thoroughly. This helps to break down food and can put less stress on your digestive tract.

 

The second step would be to try eliminating certain troublesome foods from your diet (dairy & gluten, for example) and see if that helps.

 

Conclusion:

 

While many supplements are safe products, they’re not all for everyone.

 

I recommend that you:

  • Read your labels carefully (who should take them, how to take them, when to stop taking them).
  • If you have a medical condition or are taking medications speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you want expert advice on whether a specific supplement is for you, speak with a qualified health care practitioner.

 

Recipe (food containing bromelain & papain): Tropical (digestive) smoothie

 

Serves 1

 

1 cup pineapple, diced

1 cup papaya, diced

1 banana, chopped

1 cup coconut milk

ice if desired

 

Put all ingredients(except ice) into the blender and blend. Add ice if desired.

 

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: The levels of enzymes in whole pineapple and papaya aren’t as concentrated as taking them in a supplement; so if you’re not allergic to these delicious fruits, you can try this smoothie.

 

References:

 

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/digestive-enzyme-supplements/

 

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=514&lang=eng

 

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=516&lang=eng

 

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=196&lang=eng

 

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=508&lang=eng

 

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=515&lang=eng

 

Natural Medicines Database, Bromelain, Papain, Retrieved January 21, 2017 from https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com

June Member of the Month

Meet Emily! Emily has been a member since August of 2015. It has been so fun getting to know Emily and her family and help her reach her goals. They are a big part of our community so I am really excited to recognize her month. Let’s hear from her…

“I joined Studio ME almost two years ago now. After a couple years of full-time work and grad school followed by a year of total sleep deprivation with a newborn, my husband and I were both feeling unhealthy and knew it was time for us to take control of our health and start modeling a healthy lifestyle for our son. Studio ME had opened up near my work and I suggested that Chad check it out. I had no intention of joining him since group fitness classes had never really been my thing. However, I don’t think it was even two weeks before I signed up for my first class. I couldn’t help myself after I saw how excited he was about it – both in terms of the physical results he was seeing and the fun people he was meeting. I started to feel like I was missing out!

The first week was pretty rough since I was really out of shape. However, I couldn’t believe how encouraging and supportive everyone was – even people who were in better shape than I will ever be. That is one of the things I really love about Studio ME – the classes are so accessible for all different fitness levels. I also love the variety of classes – I get a well-rounded workout and am never bored – SO much better than my days on the elliptical in my condo workout room! But the best part of Studio E for me is the social aspect. Having a young son means that free time is limited and “mom guilt” rises to the surface if I spend too much time away. Therefore, I love that Studio ME checks off multiple boxes at once – I get a great workout and I socialize with really great people. Even my son looks forward to coming to the gym to drop one of us off or getting to hang out during a movie night!

My fitness goals aren’t super crazy – I just want to be healthy and strong so I can do fun and active things with my family. I am hoping to get under 20 seconds on my 100 meter sprint soon, work on building quad strength so I burn out less quickly on hilly bike rides, am looking forward to doing some brewery 5Ks this summer. It has been really fun to see how much strength I built just in this last month from pushing myself to get to so many classes and I look forward building on that!”

Congrats Emily! Cheers to many more successes!

Raw vs. Cooked – Which Contains More Vitamins and Minerals?

Let’s finally put an end to the debate of raw vs. cooked.

 

Of course, in the grand scheme of a well-balanced, nutrient-dense, varied, whole foods diet, the cooked vs. raw debate isn’t that critical for most people.

 

Where this can become a consideration is for vitamin and mineral deficiencies (or “insufficiencies”). These may be due to digestion or absorption issues, or avoidance of certain foods (due to allergies, intolerances, or choice).

 

And I’ll tell you that the answer isn’t as simple as “raw is always better” or “cooked is always better.”  As with most nutrition science, it depends on several factors. Some vitamins are destroyed in cooking, while others become easier to absorb (a.k.a. more “bioavailable”).

 

 

Here is the skinny on vitamins and minerals in raw foods versus cooked foods.

 

Foods to eat raw

 

As a general rule, water soluble nutrients, like vitamin C and the B vitamins, found mostly in fruits and vegetables, are best eaten raw.

 

The reason why is two-fold.

 

First, when these nutrients are heated, they tend to degrade;  this is from any heat, be it steaming, boiling, roasting, or frying. Vitamin C and the B vitamins are a bit more “delicate” and susceptible to heat than many other nutrients.

 

Of course, the obvious way to combat these nutrient losses is to eat foods high vitamin C and B vitamins in their raw form (like in an awesome salad) or to cook them for as short a time as possible (like quickly steaming or blanching).

 

Fun fact: Raw spinach can contain three times the amount of vitamin C as cooked spinach.

 

The second reason why foods high in vitamin C and the B vitamins are best eaten raw is that they’re “water soluble.”  So, guess where the vitamins go when they’re cooked in water?  Yes, they’re dissolved right into the water;  this is particularly true for fruits and veggies that are boiled and poached but even for foods that steamed as well.

 

Of course, if you’re a savvy health nut, you’ll probably keep that liquid to use in your next soup or sauce to preserve those nutrients that are left after cooking. Just don’t overheat it or you may lose what you were aiming to keep.

 

But, how much loss are we talking about?  Well, of course, it ranges but can go from as low as 15%, up to over 50%.

 

In short, the water soluble vitamins like vitamin C and the B vitamins degrade with heat and some of what’s left over after they’re heated dissolves into the cooking water. So be sure to cook your fruits and veggies as little as possible, and keep that cooking water to use in your next recipe.

 

Soaking nuts and seeds

 

Regarding raw nuts and seeds, it may be beneficial to soak them. Soaking nuts and seeds (for several hours at room temperature) allows some of the minerals to become “unlocked” from their chemical structure, so they’re more absorbable.

 

Foods to eat cooked

 

Cooking certain orange and red “beta-carotene rich” veggies (e.g. tomatoes, carrots, & sweet potatoes) can help make this pre-vitamin A compound more absorbable.

 

Fun fact: One study found that absorption of beta-carotene was 6.5 times greater in stir-fried carrots than in raw carrots!

 

Of course, eating your fat-soluble vitamins with a bit of fat will help you to absorb more of them, so that’s one factor to consider.

 

One vegetable that’s best eaten both raw and cooked

 

Spinach!

 

And I’m not just saying this to get everyone to eat it any way possible (although, I would love for this to happen…unless you’re allergic, of course).

 

Spinach contains so many beneficial compounds that it’s great eaten both raw and cooked.

 

Eating raw spinach preserves the water-soluble vitamins C & the B vitamins.

 

Eating spinach cooked allows the pre-vitamin A, as well as some of the minerals like iron to be better absorbed. Not to mention how much spinach reduces in size when it’s cooked, so it’s easier to eat way more cooked spinach than raw spinach.

 

Conclusion:

 

The old nutrition philosophy of making sure you get a lot of nutrient-dense whole foods into your diet holds true. Feel free to mix up how you eat them, whether you prefer raw or cooked just make sure you eat them.

 

Recipe: Sautéed Spinach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1 bag baby spinach leaves

1 dash salt

1 dash black pepper

Fresh lemon

 

  1. In a large cast iron pan heat olive oil.
  2. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  3. Add spinach, salt, pepper and toss with garlic and oil.
  4. Cover pan and cook on low for about 2 minutes.
  5. Saute cook spinach for another minute, stirring frequently, until all the spinach is wilted.
  6. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top.

 

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: Enjoying the cooked spinach with the vitamin C in the “raw” lemon juice helps your body absorb more of the iron.

 

References:

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/cooking-nutrient-content/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/10-ways-to-get-the-most-nutrients