Hydration is important for almost every function in the body from your heart pumping blood to using your muscles for movement. Letting yourself get dehydrated can zap your energy and leave you sluggish and unmotivated. There is more than one way to give your body the fluid it needs. Use a combination of these foods and drinks to stay hydrated.
Water is by far the best way to hydrate. While drinking too much can have a negative impact, sipping water throughout the day and drinking it with your meal is a great way to boost hydration and cut calories.
Sparkling Flavored Water
If you find plain water boring and have a difficult time cutting out sodas, try sparkling flavored waters. Look for calorie-free waters with natural flavors and no added sugars or artificial sweeteners. They can be a great substitute for plain water when you need something with a little flavor and fizz.
100% Fruit Juice
Choose your juices wisely, because many are high in calories. But this doesn’t mean that all juices are bad. Many 100% juices are rich in antioxidants, such as pomegranate juice and tart cherry juice. Tart cherry juice has also been associated with reducing muscle soreness. Keep servings small and use juice as a treat and a healthy way to to satisfy a sweet craving.
Whether it’s a tall glass of unsweetened iced tea or a cup of hot tea, the main ingredient is water. Teas can serve as a source of hydration and make a good alternative when you get tired of plain water. For even more flavor, look for fruit and spice infused decaffeinated teas without added sweeteners.
Fruit and Vegetables
Hydration doesn’t only come from drinks. Many fruits and vegetables are mostly water. Berries, watermelon, citrus, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, radishes, and celery are just a few examples that are high in water content.
Reaching your fitness goals depends as much on your eating habits as it does on your exercise plan. The protein you consume plays an important role in building muscle. Whether your aim is to slim and tone or to bulk up, getting the right amount and type of protein will help you achieve your exercise goals more efficiently.
The protein we eat is made of multiple amino acids that are essential for building muscle. When you perform resistance training, it causes tiny tears in the muscle tissue. The tissue uses amino acids from your diet to rebuild itself, which leads to larger muscles and increased strength.
Healthy adults should get 10 to 35 percent of their daily calories from protein, but health organizations have made more specific recommendations based on body weight for those with clear health and exercise goals. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults eat no less than 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. Athletes have a slightly increased need. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine jointly recommended that athletes who focus on strength or speed should consume 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. Endurance athletes should consume 0.5 to 0.6 grams per pound of body weight daily.
Most people eat enough protein for general health, but sometimes this is not high-quality protein. High-quality protein provides the necessary amino acids for muscle building and supplies additional nutrients. For example, fish supplies protein with omega-3 fatty acids, and beans contain protein and fiber. Roasted or grilled lean meats and poultry provide protein without the excess saturated fat and sodium of fast food burgers and sandwiches.
There are also different types of quality protein: complete proteins that contain all 9 essential amino acids and incomplete proteins that lack one or more of these amino acids. Animal-based foods, soybeans and quinoa are complete proteins while most other plant-based foods are incomplete proteins. By eating a variety of high-protein foods, it is possible to get all of the amino acids you need, even if you choose to eliminate animal products from your diet. As you track your protein intake to build muscle, ensure that you include high-quality protein for the most health benefit. Fish, poultry, beans, dairy, nuts, and whole grains are all great sources for muscle-building protein.
Protein powders were once associated only with weight lifting and building muscle. Due to an increased knowledge of the importance of protein and the development of more varieties, protein powders are now common among the health conscious. Protein powders do have benefits, but do you need to invest in powders, and how will they affect your nutrition? By understanding more about these products, you can decide if protein powders are good choice for you.
What are protein powders made of?
The most common forms of protein powders are made with whey protein and casein protein, both from dairy, and soy protein from the soybean. In recent years, more options for protein powder have hit the market. Some powders are made from goat’s milk, and some are made from egg. Plant-based protein powders now also include pea, brown rice, and hemp.
How are protein powders used?
Protein powders are often flavored as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry and can be made into a shake. These shakes serve as meal replacements or as pre and post workout snacks. The powders can be added to smoothie recipes and can be stirred into yogurt and oatmeal. They are also sometimes mixed into the batter of breakfast foods to create high-protein muffins or pancakes.
What are the pros and cons of using protein powders?
These powders can help boost your protein intake. They may be especially helpful during times of increased protein need, such as when training for an event or when recovering from injury. Protein powders are also convenient because they don’t require cooking, nor are they perishable like many other protein sources.
While these powders may be helpful and convenient, many health experts suggest that you can get the protein you need through food without the addition of powder supplements. These powders can be an expensive investment that isn’t necessary to improve fitness or build muscle. Since they are consumed in the liquid form, they can be less filling than eating solid foods. They can also be highly processed with sweeteners and other additives so read ingredient labels closely. Also, remember that these powders contain calories. One scoop has as much as 170 calories, but many brands range from 90 to 110 calories per scoop. Loading up on protein powder through high-calorie protein shakes may not be the best option if weight loss is your goal.
Adding heart-healthy oils to your meals gives flavor to food and keeps you full. Healthy oils also help your body to absorb the fat soluble vitamins in the foods you eat. The next time you toss together a fresh green salad or serve warm roasted vegetables, drizzle on some of these oils.
Studies show that when avocado oil is added to a salad or to salsa, it increases the absorption of carotenoids. Many carotenoids are converted to vitamin A in the body, which plays a role in growth and development, immune health, and vision. Look for unrefined, cold-pressed avocado oil to use for salads. It retains the flavors of the avocado and many of the nutrients found in the whole fruit.
Dark Sesame Oil
Sesame oil contains sesamolin and sesamin, two antioxidants that may be responsible for the oil’s health benefits. Research shows that cooking with sesame oil may help reduce blood pressure. Look for dark sesame oil, which gives foods a deep, nutty flavor. Drizzle the oil over stir-fried vegetables just before they are done cooking.
Macadamia Nut Oil
Macadamia nut oil has one of the highest amounts of monounsaturated fats among nut oils. According to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fats can help to reduce bad cholesterol, reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke. Macadamia nut oil has a delicious, almost creamy, taste that makes a good dressing for pasta salads and fresh green salads.
Walnut oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function and growth and development. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to reduce inflammation and risk for chronic disease. The oil’s nutty flavor goes well with fish. Try drizzling walnut oil over roasted salmon or tilapia just before serving.
While it may seem that every food you encounter this time of year is loaded with calories, fat, sodium, and sugar, there are plenty of holiday foods that are healthy. Eat these seasonal favorites to give your holiday eating plan a nutritional boost.
Since citrus can be found in the supermarket year round, it’s sometimes forgotten that it is truly a winter fruit. Oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits are most delicious during the holiday season. They contain flavonoids that may have the ability to stop the growth of cancer cells. Citrus is also rich in vitamin C, which improves the absorption of iron and acts as an antioxidant to prevent free radical damage to cells. Whether eaten whole or juiced, citrus is a healthy addition to holiday meals.
Cranberries are often served as a sweet sauce or dried with added sugar. But the natural, tart flavor of fresh cranberries can be enjoyed with little sweetener. Cranberries provide vitamin C and fiber, and they are full of disease-fighting antioxidants. Cranberries have been found to block bacteria that leads to urinary tract infections, and preliminary research shows they may also block bacteria that leads to stomach ulcers. Chop fresh cranberries and add them to salads or cook them with steel cut oatmeal. Whole cranberries can also be roasted in the oven and added to savory side dishes or blended into sauces.
While it’s still loaded with sugar, molasses has some qualities that make it stand out among other sweeteners. Blackstrap molasses contains iron as well calcium and potassium. When you need to add a touch of sweetness during cooking, try adding some blackstrap molasses and experiment with it as a sweetener for holiday baking.
Nuts provide a lean source of protein and heart-healthy fats. Research shows that eating nuts can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol. Nuts offer a unique variety of nutrients, including vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber. Choose lightly salted or unsalted nuts to reduce sodium intake, and enjoy a few as a snack or added to a holiday side dish.
Pomegranates are available October to January, making the holidays the perfect time to find the whole fruit in the supermarket. Pomegranates contain vitamin K and potassium. They are also loaded with polyphenol antioxidants, including punicalagin which is unique to the fruit. These antioxidants have been found to protect cells from the free radical damage that may lead to some chronic diseases. The crunchy, edible seeds in the arils also supply fiber. Sprinkle them into salads or onto your morning oatmeal.
Potatoes have long been labeled as unhealthy because they are most often eaten as French fries. The truth is, potatoes are rich in potassium and provide vitamin C, fiber, vitamin B6, and iron. There are also many varieties available, which allows you to get creative when preparing healthy meals. Try roasting potatoes with herbs and olive oil, or make mashed purple potatoes for a flavorful side dish that is perfect for a holiday meal.
Sweet potatoes are a healthy holiday staple as long as you go easy on the sugar and butter when preparing them. They supply calcium, potassium and vitamins A and C. For a healthier side dish, try cubing and roasting sweet potatoes, or you can also bake them and then stuff the sweet potatoes with your favorite healthy ingredients.