EAT THE VEGGIES
6. Eat a Predominantly Plant-Based Diet.
Eat your veggies. You may have fought that parental refrain as a child, turning up your nose at broccoli and spinach, but hopefully you’ve changed your tune by now. Mom and Dad did know best on this one, even if they didn’t know the science behind the sentiment. In case you don’t either, here’s some food for thought next time you peruse the produce aisle: A diet packed with plant foods can help keep you lean, healthy, and at the top of your game.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients, high in fiber, and low in calories, making them great for weight management. They act as natural antioxidants, helping neutralize both the free radicals our bodies produce and those we’re subjected to from the environment. The common theory? This keeps us younger inside and out. Rattle off their health benefits and you can almost hear the years rewind: “They reduce inflammation, strengthen immunity, lower the risk of cancer and Type 2 diabetes, and improve blood pressure and heart health”.
Yes, plant foods may well be the super heroes of the food chain and the potent phytochemicals they contain, their super powers. Studies show indoles in broccoli may inhibit tumors, lycopene in tomatoes may lower the risk of prostate cancer, and anthocyanins in cranberries prevent bacteria from adhering to membranes — boosting both dental and urinary tract health. A plant-heavy diet also helps maximize performance by supporting cell function. “The mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells, and antioxidants and other key nutrients in plant foods like B vitamins and sulfur help the mitochondria function at peak efficiency”. Translation: Eat up and you’ll have more energy, on the field and off.
Wondering what it looks like at the table? Fill half to a third of your plate with veggies and make whole fruits, nuts and nut butters, seeds (try pumpkin or sunflower), and avocados your go-to snacks. Shoot for 5-7 servings of plant-based foods a day and keep them colorful. Try to eat the rainbow — at least 3 different colors a day, advises Pagano. “Bright colors equal flavonoids and polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that will help protect your cells from damage, support your retinas, and enhance your ability to excrete toxins.”
In addition to the much-hailed leafy greens and broccoli, load up on snap peas, artichokes, and asparagus; red apples, beets, and radishes and cabbage (2 great sources of sulfur); purple-blue plums, blueberries, and eggplant; yellow-orange peaches, peppers, carrots, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes, plus white cauliflower, mushrooms, and onions.
And this may put a smile on your face: Recent research shows people who eat more fruits and veggies are happier. Consider it just another pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
5. Fuel Properly Pre- and Post-Workout.
Ever head to the gym revved and ready to go only to falter out of the gate, failing to hit your stride on the park or your flow in yoga class? Or you finish a good sweat session only to collapse on the couch, depleted and ready for a nap? There’s a reason you may be suffering through these scenarios. You may not be “fueling” properly. Eating right on a daily basis is a recipe for success in and out of the gym, but getting the correct types of foods in your system pre- and post-workout is essential if you’re hoping to change your body, maintain workout gains or even improve performance.
Exercise is a physiological stressor, it tears down old, less adapted muscle in order to build more functional muscle. “This is called the remodeling method. But it only works if the body is provided with the correct nutrition.” For pre- and post-workout meals, that means the proper mix of carbs and protein.
Before and during your workout you need quick, accessible, and sustaining energy. “The body stores about 450-550 grams of glycogen from carbohydrates within the muscle and the liver for use during exercise and as you hit higher intensities, this glycogen becomes the main fuel utilized”. “As it gets depleted, blood glucose also declines, ultimately resulting in exhaustion.” If your body doesn’t have the fuel it needs, you’ll be tapped out before you even get started.
A pre-workout meal with the right carb to protein ratio (think sandwich or wrap) can prevent that energy-lagging scenario. Shoot for a 2:1 ratio (30 grams of carbs to 15 grams of protein) unless you’re an endurance athlete, then up it to 3:1. “You need to consume enough carbs to promote a substantial insulin release, which will shuttle those carbs and amino acids into your muscles”. With the correct ratio, production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a key energy source, is also optimized. “ATP is crucial for nearly every action of our bodies down to the cellular level, from moving muscles to producing enzymes to carrying nutrients across cell membranes.”
Once you’re done working out, eat for muscle repair and try to do it within 30 minutes. In a sense, you want to ‘rebuild’ what you just ‘tore down’ — with the goal of creating a new and improved body in the process. “Since muscle protein is degraded during exercise the addition of a relatively large amount of protein to your post-workout meal helps rebuild the structural aspects of the muscle — increasing protein synthesis and decreasing breakdown”. Carbs are essential now too for glycogen storage and replenishment. They’ll help keep you off that couch (and primed for your next workout). What to skip? Fat. It slows digestion and absorption of the carbs and protein, so it works against you post-workout. A good option: Protein-dense, carb-rich quinoa with veggies.
THE FOOD RULES
TURNHALLE NUTRITIONAL PHILOSOPHY
THINK ABOUT RENEWAL
4. Employ a Seasonal Detox to Help Achieve Optimal Results.
Those neon-colored chips you’ve had more times than you care to admit. The hours you spend navigating smoggy traffic. Your dish soap. Your shower gel. Your skincare cream. Ever think about the onslaught of all you ingest, inhale and absorb? Your body has to metabolize and excrete your chemical intake and the higher the toxin load, the more stress the process puts on your body. Time to detox? We think so. In fact, we whole-heartedly recommend the practice twice a year, come Spring and come Fall.
“Processed foods, pollution, and the chemicals in our everyday environment wreak havoc on our bodies, leading to inflammation and lowered immunity”. “The concept of detoxification, whether it’s done with foods or juices, is that you’re allowing your digestive system time to rest and repair while flushing out toxins through the liver, kidneys, lungs and skin.”
Think detoxing isn’t necessary? You might want to reconsider. Sure, it’s easier to stick with the status quo. And yes, your body does have its own natural detoxifying process, but consider how many chemicals we’re up against these days. A seasonal detox is like giving your body a dietary time-out, a respite that offers a bevvy of rewards. “The process creates an environment in which metabolism on all levels works at best capacity”. “From a health standpoint, it can lessen inflammation and potential cellular damage and from an athletic standpoint, it can ultimately optimize performance.”
We think that’s a win-win. So here’s the game plan: Give it 10 days and cut out acid-forming foods like meat, corn, dairy and gluten. (These can alter the acid-base balance in the body, creating the inflammation you’re trying to avoid). For now, skip the nightshade vegetables — tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant and potatoes. They can be inflammatory, too. Focus instead on seasonal fruits and veggies in both whole food form and juice. You heard that right: We advocate using food to detox, not just juice. Juice is great as an adjunct, but it lacks fiber and toxins bind to fiber, aiding elimination.
These detoxifiers should be front and center on your shopping list: Broccoli and broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, onions, garlic, ginger, artichokes, beets, parsley, and dark leafy greens like kale, collards and swiss chard. Include some protein-rich quinoa, raw walnuts and almonds (sprinkle them in salads and stir fries), and thyroid-stimulating sea vegetables like kelp, nori, and wakame. Add a good dose of healthy fat and creamy texture with avocado, and incorporate alkalizing lemon and cayenne plus anti- inflammatory turmeric whenever you can. Want more protein? Blend up a shake made from pea or artichoke protein, rather than whey.
THE FOOD RULES
TURNHALLE NUTRITIONAL PHILOSOPHY
DANGER: PROCESSED FOODS
3. Eat Minimally Processed Foods without Added Sugars
Forget the proverbial Ah-ha moment. Eating sugar provides the quintessential Ahhh moment — euphoria that brain scientists liken to the feeling of romantic love. How can we resist? But that sugar high is fleeting at best and damaging on the cellular level at worst. Chronic consumption of sugary, processed foods sets off a chain reaction in the body that goes way beyond the superficial “moment on the lips, lifetime on the hips” consequence. Nowadays, your health is at stake.
“Processed foods made from sugar and white flour like cookies, cakes, crackers, and breads contain loads of sugar — one reason we’re eating more sugar than ever before. Consumption has increased 50% in the last 30 years”. “Sugar itself is inflammatory and when you eat a lot of these foods, your body produces insulin in excess, which increases inflammation. Insulin is a growth hormone, so too much of it in the bloodstream can also lead to metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes.” Even if you don’t end up with a future diabetes diagnosis, metabolic syndrome is nothing to ignore. It manifests as high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and increased abdominal fat — the health-damaging kind that ups heart disease risk.
Part of the problem is that today’s processed foods are super-charged, steroid-like versions of junk doctored by big-brand food makers so that they’re even more addictive. The processing of high fructose corn syrup, for instance, actually increases the fructose level. Throw some salt, fat, and synthetic additives into the cake mix and it becomes even harder to say no. “The body has difficulty metabolizing fake sugars, preservatives, and what’s known as ‘natural flavoring’”. “And this leads to even more inflammation.” And while you don’t see this internal inflammatory response, you can experience life- impacting symptoms: Stiffness in your joints and muscles (bound to impede athletic performance), too red or too pale skin (inflammation affects circulation), allergies (think itchy, watery eyes and a stuffy nose), digestive issues, and fatigue.
Sadly, we’re not done with the lesson here. There’s another health-derailing aspect to highly processed foods. The pesticides and preservatives used in the manufacturing process and the packaging itself can disrupt the endocrine system, interfering with your natural hormonal balance. “These substances can inappropriately activate the estrogen receptors in the body, leading to weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, acne, hair loss, and even cancer”. (Bisphenol A, a compound found in plastics and the lining of cans is particularly problematic, so try to minimize exposure).
Time to step away from the cupcakes, don’t you think? We’ve done our best to redirect your thinking, so do your part and redirect yourself when you hit the grocery store. Head to the outer aisles where you’ll find plenty of organic produce, lean meat, and fish. The idea is to go from loading up on bar-coded boxes to filling up bags (preferably the re-useable cotton-canvas type) with fresh, minimally processed fare.
Make it a habit.