Nutrition Tips

Omega 3 vs. Omega 6 – What’s the deal?

Omega Fatty Acids:

We often hear about the benefits of Omega-3’s through fish oil, flax/chia/hemp seeds, walnuts and more. But why? Both Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fats meaning our bodies cannot create them and we must consume them through food (or supplements). Our bodies use these fats to create other fats that have crucial functions in the body. However it is the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 Fatty Acids consumed that nutrition experts are most concerned about.

What is the proper ratio?

For quite some time, it was suggested we ate a ratio of 1:1 (Omega-6: Omega-3). However in today’s world where a sizeable proportion of calories are derived from processed foods rich in vegetable oils and animal-derived fats (namely grain-fed cattle) the ratio has shifted for most people to consuming 10-15:1! This all has created the need to move closer to the 1:1 by increasing Omega-3 consumption and reducing Omega-6 consumption to reduce arthritis inflammation, lower cardiac risk, and reduce brain inflammation (ie Alzheimer’s, mental illness).

In general, most organizations suggest around 500 mg/day of EPA/DHA, however The Institute of Medicine has gone a step further and encourages a daily intake of 1.6 g and 1.1 g per day for adult males and females, respectively.

What foods are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

First, it’s important to know that there are three main types:

ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)

EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

The first one – ALA – is found in many commonly consumed foods that also have Omega-6 Fatty Acids, hence there is less of a push for people to up their intake of ALA. Some foods with the highest ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 are fish and seafood, followed by beans (mung beans/black lentils), Peppermint and Spearmint herbs, green vegetables, tropical fruits, seeds, and mixed green salad.

The only true food source rich in DHA/EPA is fatty fish such as wild-caught salmon. If you are vegan, or do not consume fatty fish or fish oil, you may need to consider using an algal oil (or perilla oil) supplement. Current and limited research shows it could produce a similar effect to marine oils.

*It’s worth noting that current ocean pollution raises possible concerns regarding the safety of fish in general.

OMEGA FATTY ACID SIDE NOTES: You can still have too much of a good thing. While generally not problematic, excessive consumption of fish oil can increase your risk of bleeding and may suppress your immune response. If you take fish oil supplements, be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendation on dosage. Also double-check with your doctor, before taking a fish oil supplement, if you are on blood pressure medication as it has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

Now check out this list of Omega-3 rich foods to add to your shopping list!

Keep it simple with grilled salmon over veggies or try out this delicious recipe with arugula and veggie salad!

6 Classic Favorites with a Healthy Twist!

Happy Mother’s Day!

This week we honor Moms of today and generations past! Many popular recipes from generations before were often comfort food type meals and laden with heavy creams, cheeses, and sauces. We’ll be looking at recipe makeovers for some of the most common recipes “Mom always used to make!”. What was a recipe YOUR mom always made that you would like to see a makeover for? Comment below and maybe we’ll come up with something for you!

#1 - Meatloaf

An undeniable classic! What dish better captures the essence of American households of generations past than the meatloaf? Turkey, fresh herbs and marinara sauce meld together perfectly for this delicious Ellipse Fitness recipe.

Italian Meatloaf by Ellipse Fitness

#2 - Mac 'n' Cheese

A classic comfort food that many of us grew up with and may still eat! That cheesy sauce and mass of white noodles can quickly fill a good portion of a day’s worth of calories, carbs, and fat! Instead, try this healthy alternative loaded with spaghetti squash, cheese, and spinach…but don’t worry! It still has some cheese, milk, and the base feel of Mac and Cheese.
(PS Have you ever tried Nutritional Yeast? Get that flavor of cheese with FAR less calories! Try it out and leave your comments on the blog!)

Baked Spaghetti Squash and Cheese

#3 - Spaghetti and Meatballs

Now, THAT’s Amore! One of the challenging parts of this meal is often the lack of vegetables – not to mention many serve it with butter laden garlic bread. Carbs on top of heavy carbs! Lighten up with chickpea or lentil-based noodles, toss in a few handfuls of spinach (it cooks down such that you hardly know it’s there), mushrooms, and other finely chopped vegetables, and loads of FRESH herbs to add some micronutrients to your dish, as well as great flavor!

Consider skipping that garlic bread or replace with a Wasa Light Rye Cracker. Check out the blog post from last week for zucchini noodles and meatballs for a fresh take and a major health boost!

#4 - Tuna Casserole

According to Wikipedia “Casseroles became a popular household dish in the 1950s mainly because the ingredients were cheap and easy to find at the store. Tuna casserole is a common dish in some parts of the United States, prepared using only nonperishable (AKA never expires!) pantry ingredients: egg noodles, chopped onion, shredded cheddar cheese, frozen green peas, canned and drained tuna, condensed cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup, sliced mushrooms and crushed potato chips.

Try giving that ol’ casserole an updated healthier flare with this SIMPLE and FAST Ellipse tuna white bean salad: tuna, white beans, sweet peppers, and onion served over lettuce. Have more time? Jazz it up with a little olive oil and fresh herbs!

Tuna White Bean Salad by Ellipse Fitness

#5 - Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice baked potatoes typically contain loads of butter, cheese, and sour cream which can quickly crush any attempt at balancing your meals. Instead, try an updated version by pureeing cottage cheese and egg yolk in a food processor. Add scooped out potato flesh, scallions, dill, salt and pepper; pulse until just blended. Mound filling into potato skins and place in a baking dish. Bake at 400 until heated through, 20 to 30 minutes. You will not be disappointed!

Twice Baked Potatos by Ellipse Fitness

#6 - Shepherd's Pie

Historically created to use up leftover meats (doesn’t that sound delicious?? haha), Shepherd’s Pie has a lot of varieties but can often be loaded with butter (like an entire stick!) and less healthy meat options. Try lightening it up and adding some additional nutrients to your next pie with this version containing zucchini, red potatoes, and ground turkey!

Shepherd’s Pie by Ellipse Fitness

4 Lean, Healthy Meals in 5 Minutes!

Need some quick and easy weekday meals? Weekend prep doesn’t have to be some arduous marathon requiring hours of time and every pot and pan in your kitchen! This week we’ve got 4 quick and easy recipes that you can crank out in a flash and feel happy about your meals without agonizing labor!

This week start by buying 4 pounds of Ground Turkey. Brown 3 pounds, cool and separate into 1 pound containers to freeze. With your fourth make these Veggie Loaded Meatballs!

Delicious meatballs packed with broccoli, carrots, baby spinach, green onions, and garlic! Just swap out the beef for to keep things simpler this week!

First? Go Shopping!

Here’s your grocery list for all 4 recipes!

• 4 Pounds Ground Turkey
• Rice (cook ahead if possible!)
• 1 Bag Favorite Frozen Veggies
• Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles, found at most grocery stores in the produce section)
• 1 pound Carrots
• 2 pounds Broccoli
• 2 heads garlic
• 1 small ginger root
• 1 small bag of Baby Spinach
• 1 bunch Green Onion
• 2 Avocados
• Flax Meal (only need 2 TBSP)
• 1 can Tomatoes
• 1 can Black Beans
• 1 pack Taco Seasoning
• 1 pack Ranch Seasoning
• Soy Sauce
• Chili Paste
• Plain Greek Yogurt

Optional Extras:

• 1 can low sodium Cream of Chicken Soup
• Feta Cheese
• Fresh Parsley or Basil
• Hot Sauce

(Creamy?) Turkey and Veggies

Ground Turkey + 1 Bag Frozen Vegetables + Dry Ranch Seasoning
(or substitute YOUR favorite seasoning combo)

Thaw one of your pounds of turkey, toss in a pan with a bag of your favorite frozen vegetables, and your seasoning!

Need a more “comforting” taste? Add up to a can of a low sodium cream of chicken soup and maybe serve over rice or quinoa!

Zoodles + Meatballs

Save time by buying a container of zoodles (zucchini noodles) since they are now quite common in most produce departments. Rewarm your meatballs in the oven or toaster oven while sautéing zoodles with olive and seasonings.

Get an added veggie boost by tossing in a handful or two of spinach. Serve as is or get creative with some tossed feta cheese or fresh parsley and/or basil!

Speedy Stir Fry

Ground Turkey + Onion + Broccoli + Carrots + Chili Paste

Combine some garlic, soy sauce, and ginger with ground turkey and set aside.
Stir Fry onions, broccoli, and carrots in vegetable oil.
Remove from the pan to a bowl.
Reheat turkey and sauce, recombine with veggies, and add chili paste.

Speed up this recipe even more by buying a bag of pre cut broccoli from your produce department or a “stir fry raw mix”. Rice could be pulled from the freezer and microwaved.

Full recipe here!

Rapido Burrito Bowl

Ground Turkey + Tomatoes + Black Beans + Avocado

Heat turkey and add taco seasoning. In a bowl combine rice, taco turkey, tomatoes, black beans, diced avocado and a sauce made of plain Greek yogurt and hot sauce.

Full recipe here!

Might We Suggest a Side Order of…Perception?

NEWSFLASH: Sensations of hunger and satiety may be linked to how we PERCEIVE a meal, far more than simply being based on how many calories we actually consume! In a couple different studies, British researchers served a 3-egg omelet for breakfast – but told the volunteers the first meal had 2 eggs and the other group was told the meal had 4 eggs (Idea Fitness Journal Feb 2018). When people thought they had eaten LESS they reported feeling hungry sooner and then ate more throughout the day than the group that thought they had eaten more. Now intuitively this sounds a little obvious, but just think of the implications! The PERCEIVED amount that you eat, may be even more important than the ACTUAL amount that you eat! Try adding larger volumes of less calorie dense foods (*cough cough* vegetables) to trick your brain into thinking you are consuming more overall.

How Can We Use This Info?

• Try serving your meals and/or snacks on smaller plates or in smaller bowls to give the visual appearance of a larger volume of food. Sounds kinda stupid right? After a little while you will get used to the size and feel satisfied that you piled your food high and still hit your goals!

• Do you eat straight out of the bag or box? This is a huge no-no for conscious consumption! Make sure to parcel out a serving in a separate container or palm of your hand and step away from the bag! Eating straight out of full size packages will give you little to no feedback of how much food you are consuming!

• Start your meals or snacks with a fist sized serving of vegetables and then add some protein from there.

Step up your snacks! How would a “snack” be perceived if it was a full side salad or serving of soup? What would that do to your perception of your next meal? Would you eat as much thinking you had just had a small “meal” snack a couple hours ago? If you struggle with eating too much, consider eating 3-5 small(er) meals, instead of thinking of them as snacks, and see what happens!

• The next time you are eating, stop for a moment and be present! Realize WHAT you are eating: the quantity, the taste, the look, the feel or texture, pay attention to your hunger cues, and be MINDFUL of your eating. Each day try to increase the amount of mindfulness you bring to your meal times, and even increase the amount of time spent on your meals and see if that helps to bring balance to the quantity of food being consumed.
(Hint: IT WILL! And you will feel much more satisfied afterwards)

Recipes to Help Get You Started!

A Light and Powerful Combo
– Dice up a whole cucumber and tomato
– Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper
– 3 ounces of diced chicken or turkey (optional)
The perception of this light meal/snack will really surprise you at only around 250 calories and 26g of protein!
*Cucumbers are only 8 calories!

Simple Chicken Salad
– Diced chicken or turkey
– Finely chopped cauliflower, sweet peppers and really any veggies!
– Plain Greek yogurt
– Dry ranch seasoning to taste.

Mix it up and serve by itself or wrapped in a lettuce leaf!

Save Time, Money and Headache with Batch Cooking!

Who has time to create delicious, fresh, home-cooked meals day after day from scratch? Do yourself a favor and set aside one day a week for batch cooking and make your life easier!

Cook and Store

Try cooking up a few pounds of chicken at once for instance. Cut into cubes and flash freeze (spread out on a parchment lined cookie sheet); place in the freezer just until the outside is frozen enough not to stick to other pieces. Once flash frozen, store in an airtight container or bag that way you can grab a handful to throw in the skillet with some veggies and spice and voila!

Label and date your finished product safety!

Freeze in Recipe-Sized Portions

Freeze in single serve, family, or recipe size portions, because let’s be honest: the easier you make your process, the better the chance you’ll stick with cooking and eating healthy. Try creating shake ready bags of frozen fruit for example. ½ banana, ½ cup of strawberries, and frozen spinach can be tossed in your blender with almond milk and some vanilla protein powder for a quick post workout shake!

Plan Ingredients Ahead

If you plan your meals throughout the week ahead, look for similar ingredients. Instead of chopping tomatoes, onions, and peppers for 1 recipe, you can chop several of each and have for a couple different recipes. Store in a sealed bag in the fridge, so you can grab and cook quickly!

Keep Your Staples on Hand

When you use up a “staple” in your pantry, be sure to put on your shopping list immediately and replace the next time you go to the store. Meals go smoothest when the basics are on hand. Think chicken broth, onions, garlic, canned beans or tomatoes – these types of things keep pretty long and can make or break your decision to cook instead of ordering out!

Cook in Bulk? Shop in Bulk!

Plan what you are going to prepare and shop at your nearest warehouse store (Costco, Sam’s, etc). During the summer, shop bulk produce from your farmer’s markets and CSA’s! Think bulk tomatoes, fruit, beans, corn, etc to have local produce all year long. Apples or potatoes for instance when stored correctly can last a really long time!

Print Physical Recipes

Keep a printed/pinterested/photocopy of recipes that are favorites, quick, or go-to’s! When you are in a rut, pull out a few and use for the coming week. Many people save recipes on websites or think they will go back through social media and find things etc, and then they just never get around to it. When you find something you or the family enjoy, get a physical copy of it and store them somewhere in the kitchen for quick reference!

If Not Sugar, Then What??

Last week we talked about some of the harmful effects of added sugar. BUT, if you are going to have sugar, which kind is the right choice? This week we’ll look at honey, coconut sugar, brown sugar, raw vs white sugar, and even stevia. We have to realize there isn’t a simple answer when it comes to added sugars/sweeteners. Added sugars is where the clear majority of health issues lie. Watch your labels and start playing sugar detective to know what you are eating!

Honey

Honey contains a few more calories than table sugar but unlike stevia or table sugar, it contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants making honey more like a food than a sugar. Unfortunately, most non-raw honey has been filtered, heated/pasteurized and processed thereby negating many of the health benefits in an attempt to prevent crystallization once on a store shelf.
(Caution: If you are allergic to bees, raw honey could potentially cause reactions!)

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar/coconut palm sugar (not to be confused with palm sugar) is made from the sap of coconut trees and is less processed because the sap is extracted and then placed in heat to dry. It has a couple minerals and antioxidants and a lower glycemic index than table sugar thanks to inulin (a type of fiber). Coconut sugar contains the same number of calories as table sugar, but the amount of nutrients is negligible unless large quantities are consumed so it should really not be consumed for its “nutrition” – it is still ultimately added sugar.

Raw Cane Sugar

Raw cane sugar (also called turbinado sugar) is extracted from the sugarcane plant and not refined. Although in large amounts, no sugar is “good”, raw sugar would be a better alternative than white table sugar since it retains some minerals. Raw sugar includes unrefined cane juice or powder (Sucanat and Rapadura) and date sugar.

Beware: White sugar can be labelled in disguise as refined or dried cane juice and refined cane sugar!

Stevia

While all of our article has been designated to explaining different types of sugar, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge a natural sweetener that appears to be in good standing. Stevia is a sugar-free and calorie-free South African herb made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It has a glycemic index of zero so it doesn’t raise blood sugar. It appears stevia COULD be your best choice for a sweetener without the additional calories of local honey, etc BUT be careful of overly processed stevia products as in general the word “processed” often means “processed with chemicals”.

Also, be aware of overuse as it can cause you to develop more of a taste for sweets. According to Livestrong.com “crude stevia extracts and whole-leaf stevia are not approved, the Mayo Clinic notes, because there are concerns about their effects on the kidneys, cardiovascular system and blood glucose levels.”

In summary, granulated white sugar/table sugar is the most chemically processed and refined of sugars. Brown sugar is just white sugar with added molasses, thus containing even more calories and sweetness. Choosing artificial sweeteners vs a “better” sugar is a choice you have to make based on the information available to you. There is no simple answer it seems. Our advice? Watch your labels, know your sugars, and choose what is best for you while exercising moderation!

The Devil in the Details…Sugar!

Sugar inside the body – blood sugar – is a sticky substance that coats the red blood cells. If left in the bloodstream (instead of being burned as energy) the particles will start to stick to the cells, interfering with blood circulation and oxygen exchange! Research has even shown that white blood cells are less efficient at fighting illness when exposed to sugar. Be careful of added sugars in your diet, especially if you feel an illness coming on!

One thing to think about here is the difference between complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates come from vegetables and whole grain sources and break down more slowly, releasing glucose into the bloodstream more steadily instead of creating a spike in blood sugar. Read more about glycemic index here at nih.gov

WARNING: Sugars Hiding On The Label!

Did you know there are 56 different names for sugar?? Watch your labels and look for sneaky sugar words like dextrose, sucrose, sorbitol, rice syrup, and so many more! Read the full list here!

You also have to be aware of “healthy” sounding sugars like Agave. Agave is made by treating agave plant sugars with heat and enzymes which leads to a highly refined end product still heavily loaded with calories and still…sugar! Even raw, unfiltered, organic, locally produced honey which certainly has some positive properties and benefits is still ultimately sugar – so stay sharp if fat loss is your goal!

Added Sugars can lead to Excess Weight. Why? Sugar in the blood that goes unused completely ends up being stored as fat. Too much fat in the body can lead to obesity, and obesity is known to trigger diabetes and heart disease, among other common diseases.

Diabetes is not directly caused by too much added sugar but excess weight raises the risk for diabetes. Once a person has diabetes, added sugar can make it worse since your body becomes less efficient at regulating blood sugar (glucose) due to spikes and drops in insulin. Worse yet due to the disrupted blood circulation, diabetes can cause high blood pressure and ultimately heart attack, stroke, eye conditions, nerve damage, and kidney damage.

When we eat too much sugar, the process called glycation can occur. When this happens, some of the sugar we consume sticks to the proteins in our body, causing our body tissues to lose their elasticity. It is not just our skin that is affected, but also our internal organs. The faster that the body loses its elasticity, the faster aging occurs!

Refined carbohydrates such as white bread and other white flour products tend to be very high in sugar and will cause an inflammation of the skin. Additionally, when we eat too much sugar, the process called glycation can occur. When this happens some of the sugar we consume sticks to the proteins in our body, causing our body tissues to lose their elasticity. It is not just our skin that is affected, but also our internal organs. The faster that the body loses its elasticity, the faster aging occurs! Skip the added sugar and age gracefully!

Step Up Your Snack Game!

Healthy Eating can be quite a challenge. Nearly anyone who has tried to make positive changes to their diet can admit this. As you start to build new habits however, you might find that meals are more manageable, but what do you do when hunger strikes in between meals? For many of us, our workplace has a room similar to this one that begs to answer the question…

The word “Snack” is most often associated with something less healthy, or natural, than a small meal, but keep thinking about how you can form your days around small meals, whether that is 3 or 5 times a day. No matter what though, sometimes you need that fast snack. Here are some great options for you:

Be prepared!

Keep It Simple

Roll a piece of cheese or a pickle in some lunch meat to get a quick protein boost. Look for natural meats without added nitrates and a short ingredient list.

Chia Pudding

Whether for a breakfast or for a snack, chia pudding can fit the bill! Simply combine chia seeds with coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup.
Get creative by adding protein powder, fresh fruit, cocoa powder…you name it!
Check out the recipe here!

Ellipse Breakfast Muffins

Need a quick breakfast that can be eaten as is or jazzed up? Check out our Classic Ellipse Breakfast Muffins with just oatmeal, egg beaters, applesauce, and baking soda.
Add-On’s: nut butter, yogurt, etc
Add-In’s: fresh or dried fruit
Add-With’s: cottage cheese and fruit!

Need Something Salty?

Try roasted chickpeas! Toss drained chickpeas with olive oil and salt/garlic salt and bake 30-40 minutes at 450 degrees until browned and crispy. Want a little kick? Add a dash of cayenne pepper!

Apples A New Way

Apple Snack

Have a sweet tooth that NEEDS to be tamed NOW? Try slicing an apple all the way across to get full flat circles slices. Spread nut butter on the slice and add toppings like chopped nuts, unsweetened coconut, or even a few dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs.

Make a "Small Meal"

“Crack Slaw” has a great combination of protein, vegetables, and seasonings! The recipe calls for Dole Coleslaw mix but consider using broccoli slaw for an extra vitamin boost! Find it here!

Sweet Craving?

Get your sweet fix by mixing peanut butter (or powdered peanut butter) with plain greek yogurt and maybe even a dash of sugar-free pudding mix to make a great fruit dip!

Multivitamins have NO effect on Heart Disease, Cancer or overall Mortality??

According to the medical journal “Annals of Internal Medicine”, there is no evidence that multivitamins have any effect on cognitive decline, heart disease, cancer, or overall mortality. Wait what??

However, adequate intake of vitamins/minerals from food and/or supplements IS necessary to prevent deficiency, promote optimal health, improve nutrient partitioning and promote fat loss and muscle gain.

Ditch The Multivitamin or Not??

Ideally, just supplement the specific nutrients you are deficient in. Avoid supratherapeutic doses of vitamins – doses greatly in excess of recommendations. And know what you are working with: low-fat diets for instance can inhibit adequate absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Perhaps your diet just needs a little tweaking; all of your vitamin and mineral requirements CAN and arguable SHOULD BE met from actual food intake by eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you struggle with medical ailments, check with your healthcare provider to see if specific vitamins or nutrients may need to be supplemented.

Taste The Rainbow!

…can we say that?

Vitamins are “any of a group of organic compounds that are essential for normal growth and nutrition and are required in small quantities in the diet because they cannot be synthesized by the body.”

We have overwhelming access to a variety of fruits and vegetables all year round, and there truly is no reason outside of a medical complication or deficiency that one should require a daily multivitamin.

If you use a vitamin/mineral supplement, look for one providing nutrients derived from whole foods. Be sure this includes natural forms of vitamin E rather than the synthetic versions. Vitamin A should come from precursors like carotenoids and not preformed retinoids for instance. Labdoor.com is an independent company that creates a quality score for label accuracy, product purity, nutritional value, ingredient safety, and projected efficacy!

**Check with your healthcare provider as special populations often need special consideration with supplemental vitamins. Those on blood thinners need to take precaution before adding in supplemental vitamin K. Those on a plant based diet might benefit from supplementing with iodine, vitamin D and vitamin B12. Those suffering from malabsorption syndromes will need to adjust their micronutrient intake accordingly. Always check with your healthcare provider before supplementing your diet.**

Vitamin D: The not-really-a-vitamin Vitamin

“Vitamin D” is actually the one vitamin your body is capable of synthesizing on it’s own! All you need is sunlight. Because of this you may meet your requirements for this vitamin with no effort at all in the Summer, but come Winter you may be totally deficient! (Especially for those of us in the North experiencing extended periods of below freezing temperatures and reduced daylight hours).

Getting adequate vitamin D can improve mood AND provide long-term protection against cognitive decline and bone deterioration. Many studies show that deficiency in vitamin D is also associated with increased susceptibility to infection and immune dysfunction!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/

What to Eat, When to Eat, and What it Means for Your Workouts

Thankfully, it seems the era of fad-diets, fat-free, no-carb or other diets that entirely slash a whole category of macronutrients is coming to a close! But with that said, it is still difficult to find reliable information on proper nutrition! Let’s take a look at how eating factors into the effectiveness of your workouts, and maybe we can make sense of some of this.

“What should I eat before/after my workout?”

For most of us who exercise for health and not training for a high-level competition, our meals will contain some combination of high quality protein, high quality carbohydrates, healthy fats, and some fruit and vegetables 1-2 hours before and/or after your workout to get the maximal benefit. Whether it is “and” vs “or” will partly depend on the intensity/duration of your activity, daily caloric intake and what is on the menu for the rest of your day

Break it down for me: What’s important – and Why?

Protein can help maintain muscle size, reduce muscle damage, provide your bloodstream with amino acids when it needs them most, and helps you adapt to your exercise over the long term! But most people are at least somewhat aware of the importance of protein for strength training – what about carbohydrates?

Pre-Exercise carbs fuel your workout and help with recovery/muscle retention with even shorter, intense workouts. Post-exercise carbs however should come from whole foods like fruits and vegetables because these are better tolerated by the system than insulin-spiking refined carbohydrates and are just as good at restoring muscle glycogen over 24 hours.

Alright…but tell me more about “When”.

If you ate a normal-sized, balanced meal a couple of hours before training (or a smaller shake closer to training), then you have 1-2 hrs after training to eat your post-workout meal and still maximize the benefits of workout nutrition.

But if you are like many who work out early in the morning or directly after leaving work, and you ate only a small meal within the last 3-4 hours before your workout, or you are in a fasted state, then you should consume a meal within one hour after your workout to prevent a slowed recovery. A whole food meal pre/post workout provides many things including important phytonutrients that build muscle, supply energy, decrease inflammation, and boost recovery.

Ya know, it just isn’t the same for me!

You might be right! In the end, the total amount of protein and carbohydrate consumed over the course of the day is far more important to lean mass gain, fat loss, and performance improvements than any specific nutrient timing strategy. If you are a high-quality eater (you are only looking to tweak minor things) check out this infographic that further breaks down your meals by body type!

When in doubt, keep it simple and fill each nutrient slot:
Protein – Scrambled Eggs with veggies
Fat – 1 “thumb” of cheese
Carb – 1 slice of Ezekial toast or fruit

Now we’ve got some recipes to help make finding a well-balanced, complete meal a little easier for you!

Asian Scrambled Eggs:

Shake up your eggs with a few new elements like some incredibly healthy ginger root and nutritious snow peas!
Check the recipe here!

Classic Protein Pancakes:

Rolled oats, eggs, cottage cheese, fruit – these pancakes have everything you need to call them a complete meal!

Find this recipe and more on our previous blog post here!

PB & Chocolate Banana Shake:

1 scoop choc protein powder, 1 fistful of spinach, 1 banana, 1 “thumb” of peanut butter, and 8 oz choc unsweetened almond milk. Blend and enjoy!

Need even more ideas? How about Banana Cream Pie Oatmeal?? Peaches and Cream Omelet?? You can find those and MORE in Precision Nutrition’s Gourmet Recipes List!