Archive for the tag - carbs

Chocolate Milk After Workout: Ultimate Recovery Drink?

chocolate-milkYour post-workout recovery snack is arguably the most important meal of the day. So what do you consume? A protein shake? Water? A sports drink?

According to new research, you may want to start opting for fat-free chocolate milk.

In a study presented to the American College of Sports Medicine, researchers enlisted the help of eight male runners. Following a series of runs, the participants either consumed fat-free chocolate milk or a carbohydrate beverage (like Gatorade) with the same amount of calories.

During recovery, researchers found that runners who drank fat-free chocolate milk had better muscle protein repair when compared to the carbohydrate beverage. A second study found that muscle glycogen levels were also higher for the chocolate milk group. Since glycogen is used for fuel during exercise, replenishing these stores is crucial.

But why?

After exercise, it’s important to consume both protein and carbohydrates; many exercisers make the mistake of consuming one but not the other. Sports drinks usually only have carbs. Powdered protein mixes usually only have protein. Since chocolate milk has a mix of both protein and carbs, it can be a wise choice. Moreover, it’s also inexpensive – and tastier – when compared to many pre-mixed recovery drinks.

There are a few things to keep in mind. First, you’d only want to use fat-free chocolate milk because fat content can slow digestion – and your body needs the protein and carbohydrates quickly. Second, just because chocolate milk is good for workout recovery doesn’t make it a healthy choice during other times of the day. Because quick absorption is crucial after a workout, it’s the only time when ingesting simple carbohydrates – like those found in chocolate milk – is healthy.

Personally, I usually opt for a whey protein powder mixed with simple carbohydrates. It’s not as tasty, but it’s quick, easy and effective. Nonetheless, it’s great to know that chocolate milk is an inexpensive alternative to traditional recovery drinks.

What do you drink after a workout? Let me know in the comments below.

Are Energy Chews Good for You?

In my Christmas stocking, I received a bunch of energy chews, energy gels and even an energy waffle.

The products all claim to give you a burst of energy without any caffeine – and many even position themselves as organic. The packaging makes the products appear healthy, even going so far as to feature a biker racing uphill.

To the average health-conscious consumer, these energy foods look like they’d be good for you. But are they really healthy?

Much like Gatorade and sports drinks, energy chews and gels have their place. They’re for individuals who are engaged in sustained physical activity for a prolonged period of time. These energy products can give endurance athletes a powerful boost when it’s needed most.

The boost comes from simple carbohydrates (i.e., the bad carbs), often in the form of sugar. For instance, the first three ingredients in the ‘Clif Shot Bloks’ are all sugar – but cleverly disguised as organic brown rice syrup, organic dried cane syrup and organic brown rice syrup solids. Consumers might glance at the ingredients and see words like ‘organic’ and ‘brown rice’ and assume that the product is healthy for everyday consumption.

They’re not.

The truth is, most consumers aren’t running marathons or biking the Tour de France. When these energy chews and gels are consumed as snacks, you’re really just loading your body with simple, unhealthy carbs. It’s akin to eating candy. Excuse me, organic candy.

The lesson in all of this is not just the importance of reading a label, but understanding what the ingredients really mean. In the ‘Honey Stinger Waffle’, for instance, the first ingredient is organic wheat flour. While whole wheat flour is a complex carb, wheat flour is not. Wheat flour is just a sneaky and misleading way for saying white flour. You must do your homework.

Read the label – and know what it means. And don’t judge a product by its cover.

Buying Healthy Bread: 7 Tips.

Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are an essential part of any healthy diet and necessary for proper bodily function. Of course, not all carbohydrates are created equal – and so it’s really more about eating the right type of carbs rather than eliminating carbs from your diet altogether.

Since bread is a common and large source of carbohydrates in the typical person’s diet, it’s important to opt for healthy breads that contain natural and complex carbohydrates rather than the refined alternatives that can spike blood sugar and increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.

When selecting a healthy bread, follow these 7 tips:

  1. Opt for whole wheat. Look at the ingredients listed on the product packaging. You’ll want to select a bread that contains whole wheat as the primary ingredient. Because whole wheat contains the entire grain, you’ll get a number of great health benefits – and the carbohydrates will be digested slowly over time. Don’t be deceived by wheat flour, which is essentially the same as white flour. Settle for nothing less!
  2. Enriched isn’t a good thing. You may notice that some of the ingredients are listed as enriched. While this may sound like a good thing, it’s really an indication that the bread contains white flour in disguise.
  3. Multigrain isn’t necessarily healthy. If you’re a fan of multigrain breads, read the label carefully. Though this bread contains multiple grains as the name implies, only the ingredients will tell you if these grains are whole or refined.
  4. Stone-ground isn’t a health benefit. Colorful adjectives are marketing gimmicks more than actual health benefits. If a bread is labeled as stone-ground, it just refers to how the product was milled. It’s not an indication of how healthy it is.
  5. Check for sugar. Read the list of ingredients and scan for sugar. If it’s in the top four ingredients, try a different product – even if it does contain whole wheat as the primary ingredient.
  6. Heavy, coarse bread is best. As a general guideline, select a whole wheat bread that is heavy and coarse. Not only is the flavor better, but it can be a good indication of fewer chemicals and less processing.
  7. Check for fiber. Though most Americans don’t get enough fiber, many healthy breads have at least 2 or 3 grams per slice. The fiber digests slowly and helps you feel fuller longer! Select a fiber-rich bread to help enhance your diet.

It’s not about cutting out bread from your diet. It’s about making a healthy bread choice – and these 7 tips should help you select a bread that is an intergral part of any balanced diet. If you have any other healthy bread tips, share them in the comments below!

10 Good Carb Foods!

Though carbs tend to get a bad rap (think the Atkins Diet), the truth is that carbohydrates are an essential and necessary part of any balanced diet.

But not all carbs are created equal. The trick is minimizing your intake of “bad carbs” and maximizing your intake of “good carbs.”

To that end, I put together today’s video with 10 examples of good carb foods! Via my Davey Wavey Fitness YouTube channel, check it out!

Is Gluten-Free Healthier?

The other day, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when I saw a tub of ice cream advertised as gluten-free. Labeling a product as gluten-free has become an increasingly popular trend – and savvy marketers are hoping that consumers will believe that gluten-free products are healthier. They’re not.

In a tweet last April, Miley Cyrus even tweeted that “gluten is crapppp.” That’s crap, with four p’s.

As it turns out, gluten-free and healthy are two very different things. According to Mayo Clinic:

A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).

Gluten-free isn’t meant to be a weight loss strategy. Instead, a gluten-free diet is a treatment for celiac disease. According to the National Institutes of Health, 1 in 133 people have this condition. When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, it causes the little hair-like projects that move food through to the gut to breakdown – resulting in bleeding, malabsorption and other issues.

If you don’t have celiac disease, there’s nothing wrong with consuming gluten. In fact, it’s healthy to do so. Sorry, Miley. Moreover, gluten-free diets tend to lack fiber, are higher in simple carbohydrates (the so-called “bad” carbs) and often low in the complex carbohydrates that our bodies need. If you do go gluten-free for medical reasons, it’s important to work with nutritionists and doctors to get a well-rounded diet.

The bottom line: If something is labeled as gluten-free, it’s not offering any sort of health benefit – unless, of course, you have celiac disease. The alleged link between a product being gluten-free and its nutritional content, as exemplified by my ice cream experience, is non-existent.

Bananas: Better Than Sports Drinks.

A new study supports something that I’ve suspected for years: When it comes to supporting energy and endurance in exercisers, bananas are a real powerhouse.

Through a recent study, researchers at Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab compared bananas to carbohydrate sports drinks. In the study, cyclists were given either a cup of sports drink or half a banana every 15 minutes during a simulated road race test that lasted 2.5 – 3 hours. Before and after the study, blood samples were taken for analysis.

According to Dr. David Nieman, the lab’s director:

We found that not only was performance the same whether bananas or sports drinks were consumed, there were several advantages to consuming bananas.

Like the sports drinks, bananas are rich in carbohydrates. These carbs are used by the body as fuel to power through a workout. But bananas are also rich in other nutrients – like potassium and vitamin B6. And beyond being easy to carry and transport, bananas are a good source of antioxidants and fiber. They’re also significantly less expensive than sports drinks.

For a lot of people (myself included), the idea of conventional drinking sports drinks – with their long list of artificial ingredients and dyes – isn’t appealing. So it’s great to know that there are natural alternatives like bananas. In fact, it’s why I eat one each morning before my workout.

P.S. Coconut water is nature’s sports drink and another great alternative.

P.P.S. Thanks for making Davey Wavey’s Get Ripped Workout my most successful product launch ever! Using 3 workout videos, an e-book and a slew of bonuses, the program helps you incinerate body fat and build lean muscle. If you don’t have a copy yet, use discount code “blog” to save 25% before June 7!

Good Carbs Vs. Bad Carbs.

Here's a simple rule to remember: If it can sit on a shelf for a long time, it can probably sit on your body for a long time, too.

Let’s face it: Carbs get a bad rap.

Contrary to what some diets might have you believe, your body needs carbohydrates for proper function and improved results. For one, carbohydrates give you the energy to power through your workout and, as a result, make strength and muscle gains. Moreover, low-carb diets deplete glycogen stores. Once glycogen stores are emptied, your body will burn protein – including protein from muscle tissue – to meet its energy needs. That means you’ll actually lose muscle mass!

Because low-carb diets are so widespread, most athletes don’t get their required carbohydrate intake. For active individuals, experts recommend 6 to 7 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of bodyweight per day. At 71 kilos or 158 pounds, my daily carbohydrate intake should be upwards of 450 grams.

Does this mean I can eat as much white bread and pasta as I want? No.

The real story on carbohydrates is that you should select natural, unrefined, complex carbohydrates. These are the so-called “good carbs” and can be found in such foods as brown rice, oats, barley, buckwheat, apricots, oranges, prunes, plums, broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, lettuce, lentils, kidney beans, black beans, soy beans, soy milk, any many others. In other words, good carbs can be found in whole grain foods, fruits, vegetables and legumes – many of which are high in fiber.

Refined carbohydrates, like those found in pastries, sugary drinks and other highly processed foods, are not a friend of smaller waistlines. With the exception of your post-workout recovery drink (when your body needs a quick shot of carbohydrates), these are to be avoided.

The bottom line: The war against carbs has no winners; carbohydrates are your friend. Just be smart about the type of carbohydrates that you consume.

What Are Net Carbs?

If you pay any attention to product packaging, you may have noticed a new advertising trend. It’s featuring an item’s “net carbs.” What does net carbs mean? And should you be paying attention to it?

First things first, carbohydrates are found in breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables and in some dairy products.

Though they get a bad rap, your body needs carbohydrates – especially if you take part in regular activity. And although carbohydrates are important in your diet, not all of them are created equal. Wholegrain cereals and grains are much better for you than refined cereals and grains; they retain more of their nutrients, contain more fiber and don’t impact blood sugar levels as significantly.

Though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates labeling, there’s currently no official definition for net carbs. But, in general, net carbs are defined as total carbohydrates minus the carbohydrates that don’t affect blood sugar levels (such as fiber or sugar alcohols).

For example, I buy wraps for my sandwiches. The nutrition information lists 13 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of fiber. As such, the packaging advertises only 7 net carbs. Because the fiber carbohydrates don’t result in a spike in blood sugar levels, advertisers subtract these carbs to calculate the net carb total.

If you’re insulin resistant, have diabetes or issues with blood sugar levels, it’s important to monitor carbohydrate intake. But, in today’s anti-carbohydrate world, it’s easy to get carried away. If you have tried a low-carb diet, you may have noticed feelings of tiredness, an inability to concentrate, a decreased reaction time and a feeling that every small task is hard to do. It’s because your body – and your brain – rely on carbohydrates to function properly.

Instead of focusing on carbs or net carbs, my advice would be to put your energy and attention on portion size and the number of calories that you consume.

Multigrain Vs. Whole Wheat Bread.

While we know that whole wheat bread is much healthier for us than white bread, how do multigrain options measure up?

First things first, the terms “whole wheat” or “whole grain” are very specific. As the Nutrition Diva writes:

Whole grain products contain all the parts of the grain: the germ, which is rich in essential fatty acids and b-vitamins; the endosperm, which is mostly starch; and the bran, which, of course, is high in fiber. In products made with refined grains, on the other hand, most of the germ and bran have been removed, leaving the starchy endosperm, which is the least nutritious part of the grain.

The term “multigrain,” on the other hand, simply means that a variety of different grains were used. And many (if not all) of those grains may be refined – and thus, much less nutritious. To know for sure, simply examine the ingredients on the packaging. Look for the word “whole” before the grains listed to get a better idea of the nutritional value.

Bottom line: If you’re looking to include bread as part of your healthy diet, opt for whole wheat. While multigrain bread may sound appealing, unless it’s made with whole grains, it can have the same nutritional value as white bread.

Low-Carb Fruit List.

This day and age, carbohydrates get a bad rap. In reality, carbs are essential for mental and physical performance as the body uses these sugar molecules for fuel. Not consuming enough carbs can result in low energy levels or even, perhaps, even a state of ketosis.

Fruits contain not just carbohydrates – but also a whole slew of great vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Because fruits are so nutrient-rich, it’s important to find ways to incorporate them into whatever crab-restrictive diet plan you may choose.

Just because you're on a carb-restrictive diet doesn't mean forgoing fruit. Use this list to incorporate lower-carb fruits into your diet.

To that end, the chart below sorts common fruits from low to high carb per serving. Use this chart as a general guide to make nourishing fruits a part of your balanced diet:

  • Date, 1 fresh: 2 carbs
  • Rhubarb, 1/2 cup: 3 carbs
  • Apricot: 4 carbs
  • Passion fruit: 4 carbs
  • Lychees, 1 oz: 5 carbs
  • Prune, 1 dried: 5 carbs
  • Strawberries, 1/2 cup: 5 carbs
  • Cranberries (raw) 6 carbs
  • Tomato: 6 carbs
  • Papaya, 1/2 cup: 7 carbs
  • Raspberry, 1/2 cup: 7 carbs
  • Blackberries, 1/2 cup: 9 carbs
  • Blackcurrants: 9 carbs
  • Grapes, 10 medium: 9 carbs
  • Plum: 9 carbs
  • Tangerine: 9 carbs
  • Blueberries, 1/2 cup: 10 carbs
  • Fig: 10 carbs
  • Guava: 10 carbs
  • Lime with peel: 10 carbs
  • Peach: 10 carbs
  • Pineapple, 1/2 cup: 10 carbs
  • Kiwi: 11 carbs
  • Avocado: 12 carbs
  • Cherries, 1/2 cup: 12 carbs
  • Grapefruit: 12 carbs
  • Lemon with peel: 12 carbs
  • Melon – honeydew, 1/10: 12 carbs
  • Nectarine: 16 carbs
  • Orange: 16 carbs
  • Apple: 21 carbs
  • Melon – cantaloupe, 1/2: 22 carbs
  • Pear: 25 carbs
  • Banana 27 carbs
  • Raisins 1/2 cup 29 carbs
  • Mango 35 carbs
  • Dates dried with sugar 62 carbs