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Lifestyle » February 10

NUTRITION Power it up

You know the routine. When the alarm goes off late in the morning, any form of routine goes out the window as the mad rush to make it out to the door begins. What do you grab to eat on the way out? A large coffee and muffin at the local drive thru is most likely, or maybe a BLT and a bottle of juice. How do these choices fare?

If you think of food as a source of energy for the body to refuel its engines, too much of anything—sugar, salt, protein or carbs—causes an unbalanced daily diet.

For starters

Breakfast, as you know, is the most important meal of the day. If you start your day with a qual­ity meal you will be leaner and healthier and your body will thank you for it.

If weight loss or maintenance is important to you, keep in mind there are some options that are best to be eaten on occasion rather than on a daily basis. If you’re a die-hard BLTer, you should know that too much meat can cause kidney dysfunction, so try to spice it up every other day by incorporating a little more variation. Try buying a few more veggies and fruits so that your refrigerator looks like a rainbow of color. It sounds cheesy but it’s true.

Speaking of which, cream cheese is a prime example of something that, when consumed on a regular basis, is tricky because the fat con­tent is very high and saturated. While cereal with milk is not too bad, several brands contain excessive amounts of sugar. Check the labels for ingredients with an –ose ending and if you can’t pronounce any of them, put it back on the shelf. Your body needs more in the morning to jump-start its engines! Go for granola or bran options whenever possible. While these sugary examples above are fine choices on occasion, everyday consumption makes a habit for an unhealthy daily diet.

As for breakfast sausages, have you read the ingredients?! Remember, when a company says its product is healthy, it does not necessarily mean it’s good for you to eat. Get in the habit of reading the labels. The golden rule: if you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not that good for you.

On the go

Creating your own protein smoothie is by far the best option when pressed for time in the morn­ing. This way you know exactly what you are getting. Making the smoothie doesn’t take that long and tastes far better! Using a blender or the magic bullet is great for this purpose. You can blend and drink from the same container.

If you just want a plain shake with protein powder and milk or water, all you need is a bottle with a lid. A plastic water bottle will do. Fill half of it with milk or water, then add two scoops of protein through a funnel, and shake (this will only work with whey protein, which mixes very easily.)

Nuts and bolts: About protein

For the most part you should get your nutri­tion from real food. Having smoothies is a great breakfast or midday fix, when loaded up with wholesome ingredients, such as fresh fruit, flax­seed, plain yogurt—even tofu and oatmeal, just don’t dish it until you try it.

Protein bars are perfect for times when you are caught with no food, but that should not hap­pen very often if you plan ahead. Try making your own protein or granola bars; it’s easy and it’s the only way to know what exactly you’re putting into your body. Making the granola bar doesn’t take that long, and in my opinion it tastes far better!

About carbs

If there’s anything misconstrued about these complex carbohydrates, it’s that they are the enemy! Also, I would like you to reconsider your “snacks” and consider them “meals” instead. Every meal should contain lean protein, and complex carb, and one thing to watch is portion size. Believe it or not, but sometimes just trim­ming down how much you pile onto the plate helps drop the excess weight. Then it’ll be time to watch out for the increased libido. All that healthy eating doesn’t just give you more energy all day—you’ll exert more energy at night, too.

Rough portion sizes go something like this: meats should be no bigger than a deck of cards; of course this varies slightly depending on your height. And one cupped hand for carbs and ap­proximately two cupped hands for produce—fruits and veggies.

You also need to get good healthy fats ev­ery day from sources, such as raw almonds, flaxseed, fish oil, and fatty fish like salmon. The three biggest causes of overeating and late night cravings are: not eating enough fat, not eating enough carbs and skipping meals.

Last note

The real take home message here is: the more natural the state of your food, the better. Eating pre-packaged or prepared foods is a tough habit to kick, especially if you’re tight for time, but it is well worth your time and health.

And finally, don’t attempt to make all these changes all at once. In fact, in doing so, you might be put off. Instead, try changing one or two habits at a time, such as preparing your own food ahead of time. Not only will a wholesome diet give you a healthier glow, shinier hair, stronger internal organs and nails, but you’ll end up with more money in your pocket. Now that’s some food for thought. AB

Antonia McGuire is the associate/production editor for the George Media Network, as well as a certified fitness professional instructor-trainer. She is a current CanFitPro member and has been teaching classes for over eight years. McGuire promotes healthy living and eating through her teachings as well as through writing. For more great recipe ideas, check out Oxygen/Maximum Fitness columnist and author Tosca Reno’s latest cookbook and The Eat-Clean Diet for Men (Robert Kennedy Publishing, 2009).