Category Archives: Nutrition

Clean Eating: How to stick it through

Excuses, excuses, excuses. Everyone has a million of them when it comes to eating healthier.

Forming lifetime habits of healthy eating is no easy task. It requires constant strategising to help get you through those tough days when you want to dive head first into a bucket of fried food.

The following tips can help you stick to your goal to eat healthier.

Learn That Food & Emotions Need Not Go Hand in Hand

Life is tough. Food is one thing many of us have been programmed to enjoy as a treat. Between holidays, birthdays, pizza parties and all the rest, society has trained us to think food, especially unhealthy food, is a reward.

When learning to eat cleaner, you essentially want to rewire the brain from thinking food is a reward to food is form of nourishment. This is a huge adjustment to many people!

Shop Smart: Don’t Keep Bad Habit Foods Around

One of the best shopping tips out there is to not shop in the aisles of a grocery store, because this essentially helps you avoid 100% of junk food. Chips, cookies, cereals, and all the processed stuff is your enemy. Don’t let an enemy sleep inside of your pantry!

Clean eating takes a little more effort than junk food. You often have to chop, slice, clean, cook, etc. rather than just open up a bag or microwave something for immediate gratification. To avoid caving into the temptation of how convenient and tasty quick, unhealthy meals are, just don’t keep this type of food in your house.

Seek Clean Foods You LOVE

I legitimately can say I have a guacamole problem. All I do is use avocado, lime, garlic, cilantro, onion, tomato and a dash of cumin. All of this is super healthy! It is a food I will take over a lot of junk food any day of the week. In fact, I have to be careful about not eating TOO much guacamole, because even in the world of clean eating there is too much of a good thing. I digress though.

To really able to stick with a lifelong habit of clean eating, it requires finding ways to love what you are eating. Seek out recipes that make cleaning eating sustainable rather than just chomping down some bland form of food.

Never, Ever Give Up

It is so easy to get discourage when embarking on anything new in life. Eating clean has to be one of the biggest challenges which it can be very easy to waiver on.

Even if you accidentally falter and binge on a whole box of Oreos, there is always tomorrow to start your efforts fresh. Stick to your guns, and we promise the way you feel with a body fully nourished by healthy, whole foods will make all of the difference.

Do you know your ABCs?

If you want to be healthy, happy and fit, you’ve got to know the ABCs of the vitamin world. From A to K, every vitamin is essential for your well-being. Here’s a quick and easy rundown of everything that your body needs every day.

Vitamin A: Want to get an A+ in health? Up your Vitamin A intake! This essential vitamin is important for your vision, bone growth, proper cell division and cell growth as well as a healthy immune system. You ladies will definitely appreciate the boost that Vitamin A gives to your hair and nail while everyone can appreciate the hydrated skin that it’ll leave you with.

Hungry? Grab a sweet potato! A single sweet potato will provide 500% of your daily recommended intake while ½ a cup of spinach will give you 230%. Looking for a snack? A serving of carrots will give you 185% of your daily vitamin A. Cantaloupes, red peppers and mangoes are also great sources of Vitamin A.

Vitamin B: The Vitamin B complex, made up of eight different vitamins including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12, works to keep your body healthy and energised. This vitamin family is essential in helping to convert food into fuel. They give your brain a boost too! From improved moods to better memory to reduced migraines, Vitamin B complex will keep every inch of your body at its best.

For a boost of energy and brain power, grab some almonds, red meat, mackerel, trout, salmon, hard boiled eggs, lean pork and mushrooms. They are all excellent sources of Vitamin B and will keep you powered all day long.

Vitamin C: You probably already know how important Vitamin C is to your body. This daily must-have vitamin protects you against immune system deficiencies and cardiovascular disease as well as everyday ailments like the cold and flu. You can get a healthy dose of Vitamin C by eating kale, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli, berries, tomatoes, papayas and citrus fruits.

Vitamin D: Many of us are deficient in the elusive Vitamin D. Your primary source of vitamin D should be the sun but it’s hard to draw the line for how much is too much. Generally speaking, a person with fair skin should only get 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure per day. That’ll give you all of the Vitamin D that you need for a day.

You can also get a healthy dose of Vitamin D from oily fish, egg yolks as well as fortified foods such as milk and breakfast cereals.

Vitamin E: As an antioxidant, Vitamin E removes free radicals, which are the unstable compounds that damage your cell structure. In simple terms, getting enough Vitamin E reduces your bad cholesterol and your risk of developing cancer.

You can get your daily recommended intake of Vitamin E by eating dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, avocados and shellfish.

Vitamin K: Essential vitamins, Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2, play an important role in helping your blood clot. While deficiencies are rare, it’s still important to make sure that you are getting enough. You can get Vitamin from leafy greens. Vitamin K2 comes from meats, cheeses, and eggs so if you are vegetarian or vegan, it’s important to make sure you are meeting your daily recommended intake.

Super Foods

Are you looking to make your diet super? Forget about normal food and hop on the super food bandwagon! Super foods, aka foods that are nutrient dense, can transform your diet. Here are a few of our favourite foods that pack a major punch.

Greek Yogurt

Who doesn’t love Greek yogurt? Thick, creamy and packed with protein and probiotics, this is the perfect breakfast or anytime food. Eat it plain or sweeten it up with fruit for breakfast. Use it in place of sour cream, cream cheese and mayo all day long. The flavour is subtle so it’ll transform quickly with spices.

Quinoa

Ditch the rice and grab some quinoa! This South American superfood is jam packed with all nine amino acids along with a hearty dose of protein. You can use it in any recipe that calls for rice or couscous. It will add bonus nutrients and an amazing taste.

Blueberries

Loaded with fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants, these impressively little fruits deserve a permanent place on your grocery shopping list. According to experts, they might even improve your memory! Sprinkle some over your oatmeal or eat ‘em plain.

Kale

Looking to add more antioxidants to your diet? Leaf per leaf, this is the number one source of antioxidants in the garden! It’s also a great source of iron, fibre and calcium.

Chia

On top of being the pottery that grows, these amazing little seeds are full of iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

Oatmeal

An oldie but a goodie, this classic breakfast table staple is full of antioxidants and fibre. It’ll keep your digestive system running like a dream while the slow release carbs will keep you feeling full for hours. Did you know it can even lower your cholesterol level?

Chobani Yogurt, Oats and Chia

Three of our favourite superfoods, delicious together! Photo cred: @thebitingtruth

Green Tea

Haven’t started drinking green tea yet? Join us! All of the healthiest people from the last couple of centuries have found antioxidant-rich green tea to be the secret to a long, healthy life.

Broccoli

You may have hated it as a kid but it is time to start loving it! Packed full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and folate, these ugly little green flowers are an essential part of a healthy diet.

Strawberries

Here’s a superfood that’s easy to swallow! These delicious little berries will give your immune system a major boost while proving you with a major dose of vitamin C. Thanks to their natural sweetness, they are a favourite of many dieters. Grab a cup next time you are craving sweets!

Salmon

Last but certainly not least, salmon is the most powerful food in the non-vegetarian category. Full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is the natural star of any healthy meal. There are a million and one healthy ways to cook it so start experimenting!

The Truth about Juice Cleanses

Juice cleanses

Photo cred: @recoveryfortiffany

Ready to purify your body of all its nasty, dirty toxins? If you are thinking about doing a juice cleanse, there are a few things that you should know before you grab a kilo of oranges!

First things first, know that your body is fine. You aren’t overloaded with toxins. If you are eating a reasonably healthy diet and getting some exercise, your body is probably in great shape. Secondly, if you are having some issues, talk to a doctor. Whether it is aches and pains, fatigue or something more serious, juice isn’t going to fix it.

The vast majority of doctors are underwhelmed by juice cleanses and advise people to be wary of anything labelled “detox” that promises to purify or cleanse your body in some way. If you have got a liver, kidneys and intestines, you’re good to go. Your body is a powerful, self-cleaning machine!

If you are going to help out your body, do it by eating a balanced diet. While you could do that through juice, it is a whole lot easier to just have normal food. For the best results, skip the juice and eat fruit. Grab some vegetables, dairy and grain to go with it.

Your body simply isn’t meant to sustain itself on just juice. We need variety. While fruit is great, you need it in moderation. Having too much juice means way too much sugar. This will cause your pancreas to overproduce insulin and your blood sugar will be all over the place. Without protein and fibre, your metabolism is going to take a major hit.

At the end of the day, there is just no upside to a juice cleanse. While you might lose some water weight, it has been consistently proven that juice cleanses don’t produce long term results. So, your weight will stay the same and you will deprive yourself of nutrients and vitamins. You will have much more success losing weight and becoming healthier by introducing more fruit into your diet and focusing on making your diet more diverse.

Bottom line: In the short term, juice cleanses aren’t going to hurt otherwise healthy people. Your body can live temporarily without proper nutrition but you definitely aren’t going to gain anything from it. Do yourself a favour and let your body take care of itself! Save all the fruit and make yourself an amazing fruit salad for dessert.

What Swimmers Should Eat Before and After Training

Keep it simple, fellow fishes! There are so many rumours floating around what you should and shouldn’t eat before and after training. It is enough to make your head spin. So much of the advice out there is contradictory or just impossible to follow. Ultimately, when it comes to eating healthy, it is all about common sense and healthy basics.

You don’t need anything fancy before and after your workouts. While nutrition shakes and supplement bars might be great for some people, they are far from necessary. In fact, some of the big name so-called healthy shakes and bars are downright terrible for you. As a general rule, you are much better off to stick to foods with ingredients that you can pronounce and recognise.

When it comes to fueling up before your swim training, your body needs carbs, protein and water. No fancy foods required here! Your muscles depend on carbohydrates for quick energy so fill up on bread, pasta, cereal or rice.

Big bowl of pasta

A big bowl of pasta is the perfect thing to keep you energised at training! Photo cred: @recoveryfortiffany

To facilitate the flow of oxygen to your muscles, your body also needs protein. Chow down on healthy cuts of protein like skinless chicken or turkey. If you are in the mood for red meat, go for a ground beef that is at least 90% lean. For you vegetarians out there, opt for beans and lentils. There is a massive variety of beans and lentils out there so make an effort to experiment as much as you can to keep things interesting.

Of course, the most important thing of all is water! Be sure to drink at least half of a litre of water about two hours before you break a sweat. For a basic workout, water is enough. If you will be working out for more than an hour, a sports drink is good for replenishing your electrolytes.

Whatever foods that you choose to have before your workout, make sure that it is low in fat and fibre. You should also stick with familiar foods that don’t cause indigestion. Loading up on a greasy pizza or chips before your workout is just asking for trouble.

When it comes to refuelling after your workout, you just need a bit of protein. Go for a hard-boiled egg, protein shake or even just a quick chocolate milk. It is important to remember that nearly all of us are already meeting or exceeding our protein needs so don’t go crazy with it. You can definitely have too much of a good thing.

Caffeine before training?

A lot of athletes down an energy drink before every workout but is that really a good idea? Does caffeine actually enhance your performance? Or are there too many side effects?

Before you decide what to drink, you should know exactly what it is you are putting into your body! Caffeine works by increasing your blood pressure, pulse and stomach acid production. When you drink caffeine, fatty acids are released into your blood stream. This leaves you feeling full of energy.

The full effect of caffeine hits you around 45 to 60 minutes after you drink it. This effect can help you push your body harder during workouts. When you drink caffeine, your body uses through its fuel, glycogen, more slowly. In basic terms, that means that your body is in power saving mode so you will be able to push yourself through longer workouts. On average, caffeine increases you performance by about 10%.

So, how much caffeine is safe to drink? The recommended intake for teens is 100 mg per day while adults can have as much as 250 mg per day. Here’s how the numbers in your favourite drinks add up:

Cup of tea: 11 mg of caffeine

Can of Pepsi: 39 mg of caffeine

Can of Diet Coke: 42 mg of caffeine

Shot of Espresso: 64 mg of caffeine

Can of Red Bull: 80 mg of caffeine

Small coffee before training

There may be almost half of your daily caffeine needs in that tiny coffee! Photo cred: @laurajanedennis

When you are watching your caffeine intake, it is really important to pay attention to serving size. If you order a small coffee, you’ll be getting 110 mg of caffeine. Splurged on a large sized coffee? That is going to be almost 280 mg of caffeine. When you are grabbing a drink, remember that not all cups and cans are created equally! You could be getting four times as much caffeine as you think.

If you are going to have caffeine in a healthy way, you really do need to pay attention to serving sizes. And, even more importantly, it is best to pay attention to your body. Peoples’ caffeine tolerance vary so much! While your friends might be able to gulp down caffeine all day long, you might get a stomach ache from one can of soda. Work with your body, not against it! If you are feeling jittery and your heart is racing, drop your drink and get in the habit of scaling back.

One thing you don’t have to worry about too much is dehydration. The old school idea that caffeine dehydrates you is a myth! Unless you are consuming more than 600 mg of caffeine per day, you won’t be have to worry about dehydration. Of course, as an athlete, you should always make sure that you are regularly sipping on water but having the occasional caffeinated drink isn’t going to do any harm.

So, future Olympians, do what works for you! If you combine a bit of caffeine with a healthy diet and your body doesn’t protest, go for it. Like all things, enjoy in moderation!

Learn to love Protein

Ready to up your game? If you are going to get serious about training, you need to get serious about protein! A healthy diet is the number one factor in getting fit. If you want to start building muscle, protein is your new BFF. Here is everything you need to know about it.

What is protein?

Let’s get technical for just a second. If you are really going to get serious about training, you need to understand how your body works and what it needs. When it comes to building muscle, protein is truly essential. In fact, it is the only nutrient that is directly responsible for building muscles.

By helping to build muscle protein, protein facilitates muscle growth and recovery. The amino acids in protein is what creates the energy that our bodies need for growth. They allow our muscles to rebuild themselves after a rough workout. Without protein, exercise will just leave you exhausted and prone to injury.

How much protein do I need?

Like so many things in life, needs vary from person to person. What you need in your diet totally depends on what you are doing with your body. The average adult needs somewhere around 0.8 grams of protein per day per kilogram of body weight. That means that a 70 kg adult needs around 56 grams of protein.

Because protein is essential for building muscle, you will need around 1.5-1.8 grams of protein per kilogram. If you are focused on endurance, aim for around 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilogram every day.

How can I get enough protein?

So, now you know how much protein you need. Your next step is to figure out how to meet your dietary needs. It is a serious hassle to sit and count protein (and calories!) every single day so it’s good to get familiar with the protein count in your favourite foods. Here are some of the highest protein foods out there and how much protein you can get per serving:

  • Chicken Breast: 30g Protein
  • Pork Chop: 27g Protein
  • Ground Beef: 26g Protein
  • Swiss Cheese: 25g Protein
  • Lamb Loin: 25g Protein
  • Salmon: 24g Protein
  • Ham: 23g Protein
  • Black Beans: 22g Protein
  • Almonds: 21g Protein
  • Pumpkin Seeds: 19g Protein

Once you know what to eat, it is pretty easy to meet your protein needs. If you are looking to get 60 grams of protein per day, you can meet your needs with just two pieces of chicken breast per day. Unless you are a vegetarian or on a very resisted calorie count, most of us are getting a fairly healthy dose of protein. If you are a vegetarian, you will need to do a bit more planning but it is still very doable if you pay attention.

Chicken tacos

Get half your daily dose of protein with these delicious chicken tacos from @thebitingtruth

Am I eating too much protein?

As always, moderation is key! Eating too much protein puts a much greater strain on your kidneys and can cause dehydration. On top of that, excessive protein intake can cause weight gain. Although there are a lot of healthy high protein foods, protein-rich food tends to be high fat food so keep an eye on your calorie count!

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

Image and recipe via @thebitingtruth

Resident dietitians Alex and Anna from the Biting Truth taught us how to make delicious hot cross buns, the perfect treat for the Easter long weekend!

Serves 10 | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5-6 medijool dates, chopped finely
  • 3 cups wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup wholegrain oats
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs (keep 1 to glaze)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g dark chocolate

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, dates and baking powder and stir well.
  3. Add in one egg, honey, vanilla extract, olive oil and 50g of dark chocolate (finely chopped). Stir well to combine.
  4. Slowly add in the milk, to ensure the mix forms a sticky dough texture.
  5. Roll handfuls of the mixture into balls and placed on a baking tray, lined with baking powder
  6. Whisk the second egg in a bowl and using a pastry brush, glaze the top of each bun.
  7. Place in the oven and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes (or until golden).
  8. Melt the remaining chocolate and form crosses on each bun (be careful not to go overboard on the chocolate as it is quite easy to do!).

Check out more delicious and nutritious recipes at www.thebitingtruth.com

How many do you do?

The perfect post training breakfast

Photo credit @recoveryfortiffany

Welcome to the Breakfast Club! Weet-bix are known to be a great breakfast option as they are high in fibre, low in sugar and fat, and a great source of iron and 6 other essential vitamins and minerals. So we asked some of our AMANZI Girls how many weet-bix they do in the mornings after training.

Aussie AMANZI Swimmer, Calypso Sheridan: 3.

New Zealand Open Water Marathon Swimmer, Penny Hayes: 4.

12 year old Aussie AMANZI Diver, Kennedy Cooper: up to 6 after a big training session!

UK Olympic Swimmers , Georgia Davies and Jessica Lloyd: 2 with a banana on top.

 

Veggie Athletes

Beautiful fruit and veg via @thebitingtruth

Taste the rainbow! Image via @thebitingtruth

You know what dinosaurs and athletes have in common? They both need meat! Or do they? Even some dinosaurs were vegetarians, and we wouldn’t mess with the long neck dinosaurs.

Dino comparisons aside, there are actually a lot of vegetarian athletes out there believe it or not. Like anything in your diet, changing it to exclude meat completely has huge implications for your athletic performance and lifestyle. If you are determined to go vegetarian, already a vegetarian or just curious about the impacts, we explore the advantages and disadvantages.

The Pros  
People are quick to jump on the offense against vegetarians for some reason, so there are a lot of naysayers out there who say you can’t combine athleticism and vegetarianism. We don’t agree with this perspective.

Just about every expert agrees that with careful planning, a well-balanced and nourishing vegetarian diet is possible. If you are willing to put time and effort to create the veggie lifestyle you desire, then go for it. There are also many creative vegetarian recipes out there, which are delicious and nutritious (Stay tuned to our blog for some ideas)!

Good protein sources include rice, eggs, beans, nuts, tofu, the list goes on! You should aim to be incorporating these high protein foods into every meal, as this is essential to athlete recovery.

There are many famous successful vegetarian athletes out there, including US Olympic swimmer, Katie Ziegler. 11 Time Olympic Medalist Natalie Coughlin sticks to a plant based diet, very occasionally eating meat. Tennis champions, Serena and Venus Williams are also famous for being vegans. If they can do it, you can!  Perhaps look further into how they managed to pull off training and going veggie to help supplement your knowledge of vegetarianism.

The Cons
Being a vegetarian isn’t just hard due to the fact you will miss juicy steaks, tender chicken, etc., but it also takes a good deal of time and effort to create a healthy vegetarian diet.

This means you need to know how to get the right amount of protein and nutrients that you normally get from meat, without having meat. You also will probably need to invest in some supplements. Ladies especially need to look out for iron deficiencies from not having meat!

Not to worry our little veggie friends! All of this is possible, but it requires that someone goes into it with an attitude of putting effort into their diet.

Conclusion: Listen to your Body and your Doctor

Due to genetics, environment, etc. – sometimes it is necessary to eat meat.  If this is a new change to your diet consult with a doctor and/or nutritionist to plan out how you are going to do this. Also, be sure to monitor how it is impacting your body, mind and energy levels.