Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Arctic Char Recipe

This recipe is one of my favorites and was pictured in the blog 2 days ago. It works well with salmon or with a lighter fish, char. Char is usually about $1 less expensive per pound at whole foods. It has a less fishy taste.

2# fresh artic char
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp thyme
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T brown sugar
1 T smoked paprika **I found a Spanish version at Whole Foods. It is my favorite spice in the cabinet adding a bunch of smokey flavor and a little heat. It tastes much different than traditioinal paprika, so it is worth looking for.
1 tsp grated orange peel
1/2 tsp sea salt

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix OJ, EVOO, and 1 tsp thyme in bowl. Place char in glass dish and cover with orange juice mixture, turning the fish to coat it. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
  2. Mix sugar, paprkika, grated orange peel, sea salt, and the rest of the thyme in another bowl. Remove char from marinade and place on greased, lined baking pan.Rub top of char evenly with dry mixture.
  3. Roast char 10-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork. Serves 8.

    ***I have made the recipe two ways - leaving the marinade to cook with the fish or removing it. I have also cooked the fish stovetop and it turns out great. Just do about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on how you like your fish cooked.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Frontloading - Day 1

My goal after attending the sports nutrition conference is to "frontload" my food. I already eat 2 - 3 snacks plus 3 meals, but I will attempt to add more to breakfast and snacks so that I have more energy while running and throughout the day, which is when we all need it.

Breakfast - 1.5 cup Nature's Path Mesa Sunrise, 3/4 cup light soy milk, 1 cup frozen berries, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1/4 grapefruit (the addition to one of my normal breakfasts)[389 kcals]

Snack - 2 clementines, KIND bar, part-skim string cheese (normally just a KIND bar)[350 kcals]Lunch - 1 silce whole rye bread, guacamole (1/4 avocado mixed with cilantro, chopped tomato, and Greek yogurt), 2 ounces turkey, spring mix, peppers, cucumber + 1 cup carrots with guacamole and 1 T almond butter, 1 cup soy crisps (the addition), 1 Hershey's dark chocolate kiss [493 kcals]

Snack - 1 large banana + almond butter [172 kcal]

Workout (10 miles - 1 mile Tempo, 2x2 mile Tempo, 1 mile Tempo) - Felt great! Not hungry until the cool down and still had enough energy to make dinner. Didn't hit a low during the workout.

Recovery - 1 glass soymilk [70kcal]

Dinner (see picture to the left) - 5 ounces arctic char (recipe to follow), 1 cup garlic broccoli, 5 sundried tomato polenta rounds, 1 Hershey's almond kiss [509 kcal]

=1,983 calories (67 grams fat, 254 g CHOs, 102 g protein, 40 grams fiber)

I need to keep working on it - more calories!

Vitamin D and Winter Running

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin necessary for the absorption of calcium. Therefore, vitamin D is essential for bone health as well as immune function, lowering risk or chronic disease, reduction in inflammation, and brain function and mood. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to depression (2). Vitamin D supplementation is by no means a cure-all for depression, but evidence is showing a correlation. Therapeutic supplementation of vitamin D (100,000 IUs) improved depression more than sun lamps in one population.

There are two sources of vitamin D - the food we eat and sunshine. Unfortunately, sufficient vitamin D it is difficult to obtain from either of these two sources. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D although some are fortified (i.e. milk). Absorption of vitamin D from the sun depends on relative distance to the sun. Even 40% of Louisiana distance runners tested had low serum (blood) vitamin D levels (1). Darker skin tones as well as sunscreen also prevent absorption.

600 - 1000 IU of vitamin D3 (the active form of vitamin D) is recommended per day, especially during the darker months of winter. You can also bump up intake of fortified dairy (milk and yogurt), salmon and tuna (canned with bones has even more), sardines, mushrooms, and containing smaller amounts, eggs.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency may be hard for us to notice - they include bone and muscle pain and weakness. Not sure about the rest of you, but that is a daily occurence for me. Ask your doctor to check you vitamin D levels - 25 (OH) D specifically - next time you have a physical. Not scheduled for a physical? Not a bad idea to give the doc a call. While you are in, have them look at your iron before ramping up training for the spring season.

(1) Willis. Int'l J Sports Nutr 2008; 18: 204-225.

(2) Hoogendijik, WJ et al. Depression is associated with decreased 25-hydroxyvitamin D and increased parathyroid hormone levels in older adults. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008; 65(5): 508-512.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Follow that Blog

Alyssa gave me a heads up about a blog she reads.

The Science of Sport is written by two exercise science PhDs with interests in cycling, running, swimming, etc. Their current feature is on weight loss. I had my two cents to offer on their calories in vs calories out discussion.

After attending a nutrition conference hosted by Nancy Clark, MS, RD, and Bill Evans, PhD, this past weekend, my theories of weight loss, especially as it relates to athletes, have been confirmed with research. In a nut shell (raw and unsalted - lol), here are the concepts:

  • There are huge benefits of pre-exercise fuel. A 1999 study measured how long bikers could pedal until they reached exhaustion. With the addition of a 400 calorie pre-exercise meal eaten 3 hours before the workout, athletes biked 27 minutes longer. Another study had participants eat 5 minutes before exercise and results were similar. Those who had breakfast 4 hours before, then a snack 5 minutes before biking improved 20% during the last 15 minutes when compared to only water. A 10% improvement was seen with just the 5 minute snack. Lesson learned: eat before you workout. You can train your intestinal tract.
  • Diet while you sleep - Front load calories by eating a larger, balanced breakfast and having multiple snacks throughout the day that contain carbs, healthy fats, and protein. Diet at dinner. This way, you can use the energy (calories) throughout the day for training and every day activities. Chances are, you will be able to control portions at dinner, make healthier food choices, and run/bike/swim faster and harder. If your goal is weight loss, you will lose weight this way! Have you ever found yourself trying to eat "healthy" or "less" by starting off the day with a light breakfast, eating a small lunch, and by the time dinner comes around (especially post-workout), you are ravenous and blow the healthy eating resolution. And then there is the post-dinner snack. I'm going to guess it is not Greek yogurt with fruit but more likely a bag of M&Ms...Front-load your calories for success and energy.
  • Don't get too hungry. You will tend to crave sweets and overeat. This goes hand in hand with the above statement but more emphasis is placed on snacks. Most people need to eat every 3-4 hours for blood sugar balance and to keep the metabolism running smoothly. High performing athletes may need to eat every 2-3 hours. I already have been eating this way, but my goal for the week is to have a bigger breakfast and bigger snacks in hopes of having more energy on my run. I will blog about my experience and we can see how dinner is affected.
  • Many athletes trying to lose weight, especially woman, end up undereating. Most female athletes calorie needs are around 2,000-2,400 calories depending on that day of activity and their body size. If instead they consume 1500 calories in attempt to lose weight, the body will switch over to starvation mode and conserve energy. Thanks to evolution, the body is programmed to be efficient with calorie burning; if enough isn't going in, the metabolism down regulates and holds on to everything it can. Moral of the story - eat to lose weight. Don't be afraid. It really works. Plus, what a great diet secret: eating = weight loss**.
  • ***The saying a calorie is a calorie is a calorie is not true. After a workout, it is important to refuel within the first half hour. During this time, muscles are more responsive to insulin. We need insulin to help our cells take up glucose (to replenish glycogen reserves) and amino acids (from protein, for growth and repair). Therefore eating a balanced snack with the proposed 4:1 ratio is important. Nancy's suggested recovery snack is milk or chocolate milk. If you can tolerate the lactose, milk has a natural balance of carbs (in the form of lactose which is a natural sugar) and protein (8 grams per 8 ounce serving).
  • Fat and weight gain go hand in hand and do not help with recovery. Studies show that it takes 5 times as many calories to produce the same amount of weight gain with mixed compared to a high fat diet. Next time you consider stopping at Wendy's after a long run, think about your actions. That high fat burger with cheese and frosty will not help you recover but will help you negate the effect of the workout. It will also affect your appetite for your next meal and you will not meet nutrient requirements. Thus, calories from fat are different from calories from protein and carbohydrates.
  • Carbohydrate calories are not treated the same either. Research shows that lipogenesis (new fat production) does not form after glucose ingestion but fructose is stored as fat. That means high fructose corn syrup may be contributing to our country's obesity epidemic and our own waist line struggles. Scientists think it has something to do with the metabolism of fructose, which must first pass through the liver in order for it to be converted to glucose.

Lots of good stuff. For more good stuff, pick up Nancy's book. She was one of the first sports dietitian's in the field and an expert on the material.

Schabort, Noakes. Med Sci Sports Exer 31 (3):464, 1999.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Dollar Daze

Runner's World Mag offers some great advise in their February Issue. "On the Money" suggests when to spend the big bucks at the grocery store and when to save a few extra dollars so you can splurge on the Miami Half Marathon getaway.

Splurge - Grass Fed Beef

Grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fat and higher in omega-3 fatty acids than its grain fed counterpart. Keep in mind what overeating carbs instead of veggies does to humans bodies...the same is true for cows.

Save - Dark Chicken Meat

Still low in fat and calories as far as meat goes, dark meat is usually less expensive and adds more iron and zinc, important nutrients for run down runners (or any runner for that matter). Plus, there are some delicious Indian recipes for chicken legs; try coating them in curry, Greek yogurt, cumin, onions, and garlic. Let the chicken marinate for 20-30 minutes in the fridge and bake with the skin on. Save on fat and calories by eating the meat and discarding the skin. Serve with ginger dal and brown basmati rice for an Indian delight!
Splurge - Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Olive oil, and sometimes canola oil, are the best oils to use while cooking. Keep in mind you still do not want the oil to smoke, but adding a splash of EVOO, as Rachael Ray would call it, will provide you with some anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Research also suggests that extra virgin varieties are better than nonvirgin or light olive oil. Bake your fish (also high in omega-3s) or chicken brushed with this oil or add a splash to your leafy greens or steamed veggies. You can also try coconut oil, which adds a nice flavor to seafood.

Save - Chunk Light Tuna

Tuna is one of those great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and it is convenient and cheap. My favorite way to make tuna includes 1-1 1/2 Tbsp light or olive oil based mayo, celery, pickle relish, Cholula hot sauce, and Dijon mustard. Chunk light has lower mercury than chunk white because of the size of the fish the tuna is from. Larger fish or predatory fish accumulate more mercury because they eat other fish that contain mercury in their bodies as well.

Splurge - Organic Peaches, Apples, Peppers, Celery, and Nectarines

These fruits and vegetables have been tagged by the Environmental Working Group for having the highest pesticide residues. Also enjoy organic grapes, potatoes, and tomatoes as well as leafy greens such as spinach and kale. These are known as the Dirty Dozen. Organic dairy and meat is also worth the extra money. The way an animal is raised greatly determines its nutritional quality as well as how it affects your body. To be named organic, the animal and its feed must be free of hormones and pesticides as well as have grazing access. If the animal has been given antibiotics or hormones, we will consume these chemicals as well, placing us at a health risk. Don't bother buying organic onion, avocado, mango, asparagus, and pineapple. They are generally recognized as safe.

Save - Frozen Produce

Frozen fruits and veggies may actually be healthier than their fresh counterparts. They are picked at their peak of ripeness and flash frozen, thus helping maintain their nutritional quality. Fresh fruits and vegetables lose nutrients as they sit in piles on the farm, travel on the truck to the store, wait to be stocked at the grocery store, and sit in your refrigerator. Add frozen peas to salads, pair frozen green beans with turkey meatloaf, or add frozen fruit to smoothies. I microwave frozen berries (packed with antioxidants to repair cell damage after a hard workout) for 30 seconds and add them to my cereal. Another quick tip - freeze over ripe bananas and add to your oatmeal or recovery shake.

Splurge - Greek Yogurt

Choiban, Oikos, or Trader Joe's brand are great picks for this thick, creamy, protein-packed treat. But the winner in taste tests (national and my own) is Fage. Pronounced Fai-yay(!), this yogurt contains double protein and double probiotics since the extra liquid is strained, leaving a more concentrated dairy product. Pick lower sugar options still. Fage offers a peach, cherry, strawberry, honey, and plain in 0, 2, or 4% (whole) varieties. Honey has the most sugar and plain wins in my boat. It is sweet enough after adding some of the frozen fruit you saved on. Sprinkle some Stevia and flax seed and you have a healthy bedtime snack or mid-morning pick up. Also, stick with the 0 or 2% to avoid a lot of saturated fats. If you have a hard time with the bigger price tag, think about this - instead of paying for high fructose corn syrup, you are spending your money on good quality protein!

Save - Regular Eggs

I actually disagree with RW on this one. They suggest sticking with regular eggs instead of free-range eggs. Free-range eggs can pack more beta-carotene, omega-3s, and vitamin D than thier caged counterparts. RW argues that the USDA does not specify access and time the chickens have. This is actually true of other animals, such as cows. You do need to be aware of the manufacturers practices, but getting omega-3s from your eggs is a great idea. Also, why not support more humane treatment of the chickens as well?