Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Muzza's guide to simple, no bull-s*/t nutrition

I found this here at Wikipedia:

"A healthy diet is one that helps maintain or improve general health. It is important for lowering many chronic health risks, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer.[1] A healthy diet involves consuming appropriate amounts of all essential nutrients and an adequate amount of water. Nutrients can be obtained from many different foods, so there are numerous diets that may be considered healthy. A healthy diet needs to have a balance of macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates), calories to support energy needs, and micronutrients to meet the needs for human nutrition without inducing toxicity or excessive weight gain from consuming excessive amounts."

Another Wikipedia article (here)says:

"Food provides nutrients from six broad classes: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, dietary minerals, and water. Carbohydrates are metabolized to provide energy. Proteins provide amino acids, which are required for cell construction, especially for the construction of muscle cells. Essential fatty acids are required for brain and cell membrane construction. Vitamins and trace minerals helps to keep good electrolyte balance and are used for metabolic processes. Dietary fiber also affects one's health, although it's not digested into the body"

The problem with trying to define a healthy diet is that you have to define the goals for that diet, and everyone's goals will be different. For example:

My dietary goals are:
  • (1) Avoid illness - that is, my diet should influence my body away from certain diseases - think diabetes, cancers, high blood pressure / cholesterol, etc.
  • (2) Fitness - I need my diet to re-fuel my body, aid in recovery after exercise, provide proteins for building my muscles and carbs for fuelling my them.
  • (3) Avoid fatigue - I have issues that I tend to be tired a lot, and my concentration and self-discipline are generally bad. I would like my diet to provide me with sustained energy throughout the day. This explains my fixation with low-GI meals.
  • (4) Adventure / hobby - I like being a foodie. I enjoy learning to cook new foods and drinks. This obviously fairly radically effects the way I eat.
But I live in a family of 4. I'm quite happy to use an excessive amount of exercise to regulate my weight (and I'm kind of blessed to have a body type which doesn't have weight problems), but one of my wife's dietary goals is to (5) lose weight. The combination of the two causes a challenge.

Disclaimer: I am a completely amateur nutritionist (not even close to a qualification), so what I think below probably doesn't count, but what I think w.r.t the above goals are:

(1) Avoiding illness - Eat lots of fruit and veggies. These contain all sorts of vitamins which are healthy. Also try to eat more unsaturated fats, which helps with cholesterol. Generally try to eat a broad assortment of things, so that your body isn't missing out on any nutrients, and don't eat too much of the same thing, so you body doesn't get overloaded with too much unhealthy stuff (think southern fried chicken).

(2) Fitness - Seems to come down to carbs and protein. Carbs provide glycogen for your muscles to operate, protein provides amino acids to build those muscles bigger. Make sure you have a decent amount of these inside of you before doing exercise, though not too much so that you get stomach cramps / stiches. And make sure you refuel on these things as soon as you're done exercising.

Water is also pretty important, to keep hydrated. And for those longs weekend runs or races - energy gels work wonders to top you up with carbs and to top up the electrolytes which leak out your skin when you run. Oddly enough you can eat salt when you run for the electrolyte thing, but my vote says energy gels are way tastier.

(3) Avoid fatigue - More to come on this later, because I'm pretty clueless right now. My best advice is aiming for a Low GI / complex carb type of diet which means you eat carbs which get absorbed slowly, so they're releasing energy slowly, so they release energy for a longer time, thereby giving you energy for longer.

Part in parcel with this is to eat more often. I find it pretty easy to eat at least 5 meals a day - the normal 3 plus a snack in between each, and then sometimes a snack either very early or very late, depending on whether I've worked out at these times or not. Exercise people say that all meals should contain both carbs and protein (to keep your muscles building themselves), but if you're just aiming for anti-fatigue food I'd say focus on the carbs. But also please note that carbs are what fruit and veggies are, not just wholewheat bread.

(4) Adventure / hobby - umm, you're joking right. Don't be afraid to cook something new. Favourite recipe website of the moment is Saveur.com , but there are many that I look at.

(5) Weight Loss - Calories, calories and calories. I am sorry that it seems to be this simple. Maybe there is a magic cure out there, and there certainly are certain things that help with burning fat, but really it comes down to eating less than you burn off. I recommend getting a lot of exercise to burn the calories off. I don't really recommend counting calories, but its probably worthwhile to know and think about rule-of-thumb calorie amounts. I'm not really qualified to talk about weight loss, I'm a skinny sh*t, so its never been important to me.

There are surely other dietary goals, maybe I'll get to them in the future.

A day's menu

Yesterday I was rambling on about a typical day's eating - i.e. how many meals there should be in a day, and how that fits into a basic exercise plan. Today I would like to delve into a little more detail about what those meals could be.

I have a pretty healthy eating plan today (except for lunch) (and the early morning snack), and so I'm going to tell you about that (editted to make it actually look healthy):

Wake up Snack: Murray's awesome frozen banana & peanut butter smoothies. I have yet to post the recipe for this, but they are the perfect smoothie for around workout time. I got up at 5AM this morning, made coffee and then (lets pretend) made this smoothie. So I would have drank the smoothie at about 5:20, before going for my run at 6:00. 

(Author's note: Actually I had about 3 pieces of chocolate cake for my wake up snack, which gave me heart-burn and gas during my run, so tomorrow I'm definitely going to try the smoothie!)

Morning Run: (6:20 - 7:00AM) 6.5km trail run (40 minutes) through the newly cut canefields, at sunrise, with a brief jog past the insanely beautiful Anse La Raie bay. Gorgeous. Birds tweeting. Sweet smell of burnt mollasses.

(Author's note: I did! Why don't you believe me?! No really, I love my morning runs! (Note: I really did go for the run, it was awesome (except for the heartburn!))

Second note: Did you know? You're supposed to eat within an hour after doing exercise to refuel your body and help build muscle and recover. Simple (high GI) carbs are fine for this, and some protein is important. I'll skip the science for now, but please believe me - Re-fueling after exercise is really, really critical to the exercise being effective and you becoming fitter. Really critical. Even if you're trying to lose weight, you must eat then. And this is why I got home and made breakfast ...

Breakfast: Jungle oats with Goji berries and sliced bananas. Healthy Awesomeness! Same as the post below called "Weekday breakfast" which says its 480kCal which is a bit high, but because I'm doing exercise I'm not worrying. Breakfast of champions, especially when combined with a run directly previously to it.

Morning Snack: (at about 10:30AM) 2 jars of yoghurt and an apple

Lunch: I haven't brought any lunch today. Lunch is most likely to be KFC fried chicken, which I don't think is so healthy and shouldn't fit into a healthy eating day, what you should eat instead, if you're not me ..

Hummus and veggies in wholewheat pita, or
Tuna salad, or
Chicken salad.

Afternoon Snack: Not sure. Today I'm planning on having leftover KFC. You should have something healthy!

Dinner: (6:30PM) Tonight we've got Linguine with a mushroom and garlic cream sauce, tomorrow we've got Caesar salad with grilled salmon. Both awesome, and both fairly nutritious (although the linguini is probably fairly fattening).

Evening Workout: (8PM - 9PM) I don't actually workout straight after work like I said yesterday. I workout when the kids go to bed. Quite looking forward to it tonight, last night I didn't feel great, I think I started to close after supper, so I felt a bit nauseous (sp?)

Evening Snack: Because you know you're supposed to eat straight after your workout. Ummm, I'm not sure. I wonder if chocolate is a valid form of carbs and protein? I doubt it. My guess is I'm going to eat more of that Chocolate cake that Wifey made last night, it should be iced by tonight.

There you go. That's a little bit of a day in the life of Murray. What I think it shows is that I need to put a little thought into healthy afternoon snacks and evening snacks. I'll think about this while I'm at the KFC later. Happy eating!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Healthy Eating

Long time no post I realise - it's most probably because I'm a bad person. Moving on...

I have become a fitness fanatic, and with that have started to look more closely at my diet as a whole, rather than focussing on individual meals.

You know by now that opinions are like assholes (everyone has one), and diet plans are exactly the same. The thing is that that's how it should be - everyone has a different body/ metabolism/ health/ weight/ BMI, everyone does different quantity/ quality/ types of exercise, we've got different budgets, different toxins that we allow into our lives, different time allowances. In essence, we're all different, so of course our eating plans should be different.

This is my version ...

Start with exercise. In an ideal world I would truly love to work out 12 times a week. Divide that into 4 types of exercise, 3 times a week each.

Type 1 is cardio - in my opinion this is the be all and end all of weight-loss, but my weight is fine, so for me its all about endurance. In my case it means running - 1 long run on Saturday mornings 10ish km right now, but this flows up and down depending on whether I've got a race coming up, so it should ease up to about 25km by the year end, and up to about 40km or 50km before the Marathon next June. 1 easy run, about 8km. 1 run that's either a 5km temp run or 5km intervals. Note that although the focus right now is on running, and is likely to stay that way until at least after the marathon next year, I fully intend to broaden the scope of my cardio work after that. Other cardio options available outside of the gym are cycling (road or mountain bike), kayaking (probably a surfski is best for me), or swimming (open water swimming seeing as I live on an awesome tropical island). When I do get round to another cario type, I'll probably focus on it pretty exclusively for a period and try get into a race or two in that discipline.

Type 2 is strength. The problem with being a distance runner is that you end up being an endurance skeleton. I don't want that. Rather, I'd really like a general, rounded fitness, all be it one that includes running as its (current) focus. So 2 or 3 workouts a week are strength training. Been doing this for about 2 months and its going pretty well. Got to say that vanity is a big reason to be doing strength training - I try to explain it away to better fitness, but you and I both know better. One validation I've got though, is that stronger legs and being stronger generally should speed up my running, but I haven't really seen great improvements in my running time.

Type 3 is flexibility / balance. No I don't do anything, which is bad. The absolute minimum is where I'm at right now, which is stretching my legs for 5 minutes when I get back from a run. In a prefect world I'd rather be spending a workout on yoga, or tai chi or some such after my runs. They tell me that flexibility is key to avoiding injury. I'll get the one day.

Type 4 is power / speed. No I don't do anything here either, yet. My theory is that its really sad I never get to sprint flat out, or hit a ball as hard as I can, or some such. In my perfect world I'd have 3 workouts a week which were either sprinting intervals, or some high-intensity sport like squash or rugby.

What that gives me is a normal day where I workout early in the morning and early in the evening, so my Meal Plan go something like this:

Wake up (say 4:45AM) Carb and protein snack, easily digestible, plus a freshly made fruit juice.

                    Morning Workout (6 - 7AM)

Breakfast (7:20AM) Simple carbs and protein to recover from the workout, plus complex carbs to give energy for the day.

Morning Snack (10AM)

Lunch (12:30)

Afternoon Snack (3:30PM)  Fuelling for afternoon workout.

                    Afternoon Workout (5 - 6PM)

Dinner (6:30PM) Some carbs for workout recovery, but not much carbs for sleeping.

Late Snack because I have a chocolate addiction.

The goal is balance and variety with a few small rules:

Sugar should be minimized. Its fine (even good) straight after a workout, but only then. So leave the cupcakes for binging on when I come in from my run (unless you're trying to lose weight, then you should count those calories). The aim is to keep my blood sugar levels pretty steady to avoid fatigue crashes through the day.

Generally things should be low-ish fat. Saturated fat (i.e. from animals or dairy) should be kept to an absolute minimum because its bad for your cholesterol, and un-saturated fat is good for you, but is still high in calories, so some fat is important, but if you want to lose weight then keep it to the minimum.

Eat as much fruit and veggies as you can.

Carbs should be complex whenever possible. Find a good wholewheat bread that you like and eat that every day. I've just found a really nice one as my local supermarket.

And that's about it.

I close with this philosophy to eating which I think came Anthony Bordain:
"Eat real food; Not too much; Eat mostly plants"
That's really what it boils down to.

Okay, cheerio.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tuna Lentil Spaghetti Bolognese

Seeing as this is my third blog post in 2 days I don't really have much to say.
Dinner tonight used to be a staple of ours a few months ago, but then seemed to get forgotten. We were trying to use up what we ingredients we had in the kitchen without going shopping, and everything pointed to this.

I really like it. It gives you spaghetti bolognese without the heavy mince, most of the bulk seems to come from the lentils so its clearly good for you. And it makes 1 tin of tuna go an incredibly long way. Vix and I both had a healthy helping full, and even Jasmine ate it (the soon to be 5 year old, I'm pretty amazed she ate lentils), and there's probably enough leftovers for the everybody to eat the same for lunch tomorrow.

Stoked. My healthy eating mission is picking up steam.

Recipe from Mediterrasian.com again.

3 tbspn olive oil
1 onion - finely chopped
1 carrot - finely diced
1 stalk celery - finely chopped (I didn't have any so used green pepper. Worked just as well.)
3 cloves garlic - finely chopped
1/2 tspn dried oregano
1/2 cup white wine
3 tbspn tomato paste
420g tin of chopped tomatoes
420g tin of lentils - rinsed and drained.
180g tin of tuna in olive oil. - drained and flaked.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
Cook onion, carrot and celery, covered, for 8 minutes, stirring sometimes.
Add garlic and oregano and cook for 2 minutes.
Add wine, tomato paste, tomatoes, salt and pepper.
Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.
Make the spaghetti while this is going on.
Then add the lentils, tuna and last tablespoon of olive oil to the sauce and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.

Serve, topped with a little grated Parmesan.

Nutritional info (Once again worked out at NutritionData.com)
Assume the above recipe is 6 servings.
Based on recipe using green pepper, rather than celery.

Calories 399kCal
Total Fat 9g (14% Daily Value for 2000kCal diet)
 - Saturated Fat 1g (7% Daily Value)
Total Carbs 58g (19%)
 - Dietary Fiber 7g (28%)
 - Sugars 5g
Protein 19g

Vitamin A 39%
Vitamin C 46%
Calcium 5%
Iron 23%

Other nutrition info from NutritionData:
Complete Amino Acid score indicating a complete or high-quality protein.
"The good: This food is low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Protein and Vitamin C, and a very good source of Selenium."
Also there's Omega-3 (388mg) and Omega-6 (1193mg) fatty acids.
46% of Daily Value Vitamin C,
10% DV of Vitamin E,
15% DV of Vitamin K
Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate ( I don't know what any of this means, but maybe I'll try to figure it out sometime soon.)
Minerals include:
Magnesium - 15% DV
Phosphorus - 23% DV
Zinc - 10% DV
Selenium 82% DV

Actually I definitely think I'm going to need to do a bit more Nutrition research.
Seems from the above that there's more to these shenanigans than Carbs, Protein and Fat.
I will keep you informed.

Happy eating.

Weekday Breakfast

No pics today as I had no intention of writing this - but breakfast tasted really good, so I thought I'd share.

You have clearly heard it mentioned before that Brekkie is the most important meal of the day. It loads you up with energy (think carbs and protein) to get you started on the right foot and refuels you because you haven't had anything in your tummy since last nights chicken curry.

If you're anything like me you've been super bad at eating breakfast at all, but since Wifey started her Weigh-less diet, she's being forced to have breakfast, and now we're all starting to like the tradition of sitting down every morning in amidst the mad rush to get to work and school on time.

But its tough to find the time - so quick and easy recipes are required.

Le Recipe
Jungle Oats - place cup of oats, 1 cup of water and some salt in pot. Add 2 cups of boiling water. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Take off heat and let sit for about 3 minutes. Makes enough for 2 1/2 people (which is exactly how many people eat breakfast at my house.)

Add a small handful of goji berries, one sliced banana and a little milk.

Delicioso, and doesn't even need sugar or honey.
I think it would have been equally awesome with a chopped up apple instead of the banana, or in addition to it.

Nutritional Info
(Figured out by myself with the help of nutritiondata.self.com)
Calories 489kCal (that is, about 24% of the daily requirement, assuming a 2000kCal diet)
Total fat 11g (19% of meal)
Total Carbs 91g  (69% of meal)
Of which - dietary fiber is 9g and sugars 22g
Protein 16g (12% of meal)
Vitamins include Vitamin C (27% Daily Value) Calcium (20%) and Iron (27%)
Nice dose of Manganese, Selenium, Riboflavin, Vit. B12, Pantothenic Acid and Phosphorous