A good night’s sleep will ensure that you awake refreshed, looking radiant and youthful. Adequate sleep is vital to avoid puffiness around the eyes and maintain vibrant skin. Habitually cutting sleep cycles short can mean more than missing out on your beauty sleep can have a negative impact on your beauty and your overall health. In fact, inadequate amounts of sleep can lead to unwanted weight gain, cravings for fat-laden, carbohydrate-heavy foods, memory loss, a weakened immune system and even an increased risk for heart disease.
Hormones & Sleep
While we sleep, the hormone melatonin is released, which has a positive effect on the immune system and the skin. Sleep rebuilds energy reserves and regenerates the body as our cells undergo repair. When we sleep, the body is able to turn down the negative effects of cortisol and the “bad” neurotransmitters, like epinephrine and norepinephrine that can be elevated during stress. Growth hormone (the youth hormone) is also released during sleep.
Diet & Sleep
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter vital to helping the body regulate appetite, sleep, and mood. An amino acid called Tryptophan can actually raise levels of serotonin, making it a wonderful treatment for insomnia, anxiety and depression. Enjoy salmon, halibut and turkey often. They are all excellent sources of tryptophan, as are beans and lentils.
Exercise & Sleep
People who exercise regularly enjoy improved sleep quality. They fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, awaken less often and sleep longer.
Source: Dr. Perricone
Every once in a while when thinking up topics for No Meat Athlete posts, I hit on one that’s so obvious, it’s a joke that I haven’t already written it.
We’ve had protein posts before, like the primerfrom vegan R.D. Matt Ruscigno.
And I’ve written a few articles about protein myself, but the main one wasn’t a blog post; it’s a lesson in my e-course for newsletter subscribers (join here if you haven’t yet).
But have I really not written a post about where to get your protein? The question that vegetarians get asked more than any other?
Apparently, not yet. So here it is.
First, my standard answer to the question, Where do you get your protein?:
Sometimes willpower is a lot like the television remote control — hard to find just when you want it most. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, stop smoking, get to the gym regularly, win a promotion or pay off some debts, developing your sense of willpower is an important part of changing any behavior.
We all know that breaking a bad habit or establishing a new, healthy one can be difficult, but persistence pays off. Researchers at the University of Washington found that 63 percent of those who made New Year’s resolutions were still keeping their resolution two months later. It’s not going to be easy, but there are ways to increase your willpower, stay resolved and achieve your goals.
First Things First
Don’t try to restructure your finances, win a promotion and lose weight all on the same morning. Establish one clear, specific goal and formulate a realistic strategy for achieving it. Extra willpower sometimes requires extra energy, so don’t stretch yourself too thin. Focus on one goal at a time.
Momentum builds gradually, and whatever your goal, don’t expect to achieve it overnight. Real success takes time. If you are trying to kick a caffeine habit, start by replacing your morning cup of coffee with a glass of water, instead of vowing never to drink coffee again. Congratulate yourself on the small achievements that will pave the way toward a larger one. These successes help your willpower grow.
Bolster your willpower by tapping into a support network. Ask friends, family or colleagues for assistance and tell them exactly how they can help. If your credit card bills have skyrocketed, for instance, let friends know that you are cutting back on expenses. Suggest having a potluck dinner instead of meeting at an expensive restaurant. Find a support group or organization related to your goal and attend their meetings. You can get valuable advice, understanding and information — all of which increase commitment and willpower.
Changing Your Environment
If possible, alter your environment to reduce temptation or encourage positive behavior. Want to get in shape? Keep an extra set of workout clothes in your office as a reminder to stop by the gym on the way home. Quitting smoking? Avoid bars or restaurants where you might be tempted to light up.
More Than Willpower
Sometimes changing your behavior requires more than willpower. If you are struggling with an addiction or want to make a significant lifestyle change, seek the guidance and support of a professional. An expert may be able to provide intensive support and followup or prescribe medication to reduce physical symptoms. For example, without help only 5 percent of smokers can quit but that number rises to 30 percent when people seek both drug therapy and counseling.
The treadmill is a place where walking and running go to die. At the highest levels of performance, athletes spend the majority of their time fine-tuning every facet of how they run. Most of us ignore this completely. We all ask the same questions: Can I run for an hour at 6.5 mph, can I run 10 miles, can I run a 5k in less than 20 minutes? These aren’t the right questions. As evidenced by the minimalist/barefoot movement, some runners are looking at their form rather than time and distance. But the change doesn’t have to be extreme; fixing your form doesn’t require a sea change that takes months or years – try eight days.
The workout is simple: Every day, you will start walking at 1.3 mph and run at an increasing speed with the goal of running as fast as possible with an effortless stride. That’s it. And bring your iPad and fire up YouTube – you are walking, after all. Watch the great runners, Lolo Jones, Usain Bolt, Michael Johnson. See how laid-back they are. When Bolt is running full speed, he’s more relaxed than your walk.
1. Use small plates
Research clearly shows that people who choose smaller plates and utensils eat less without even noticing it. The difference can be as substantial as 50% fewer calories consumed, yet everyone reports the same level of fullness and satisfaction. Try borrowing a plate from the kids table or the dessert tray.
2. Eat slowly and mindfully
People who eat more slowly eat fewer calories over the course of a meal. BBQs are a perfect opportunity to pace yourself as you mix and mingle with friends and family. The more you’re chatting, the less you’re eating.
3. Eat healthiest foods first
If you are eating slowly and off small plates, you may as well fill up on the healthiest stuff first. Salads are a great place to start because watery vegetables slow digestion and have very few calories. Try to choose something with oil and protein as well, because these will help you feel full sooner.
4. Skip the chips, crackers and bread
Refined carbohydrates are the worst things you can eat because they offer little satisfaction, loads of calories and dangerous insulin spikes. BBQs are filled with wonderful food, so do yourself a favor and save your calories for the really good stuff.
You don’t have to eat your burger without a bun, but pass on the pointless chips and other snacks that lure you when you’re not thinking. If you’re feeling bored, grab a Frisbee instead.
5. Keep dessert small
The difference between a large slice of cake and a smaller slice of cake can literally be hundreds of calories. And to reiterate, sugar and refined carbohydrates are the most dangerous foods. You don’t have to pass on dessert completely, but keep your portion sizes in check for this course.
6. Think before you drink
There is a place for alcohol in a healthy lifestyle, but making smart choices can be the difference between losing or gaining weight (not to mention your self-control). One sugary margarita can have 600-800 calories. That means 3 margaritas is more food than you should be consuming in an entire day. Is that really worth it? Stick with wine or beer, drink plenty of water and remember to pace yourself.
Small tricks can save you hundreds and potentially thousands of wasted calories that you will never notice or miss. Why sacrifice a good time when you can just upgrade your health style?
With the publication this month of “Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness,” by the vegan distance runner Scott Jurek, vegan diets have become a wildly popular topic on running-related Web sites. But is going totally meatless and, as in Mr. Jurek’s case, dairy-free advisable for other serious athletes, or for the rest of us who just want to be healthy and fit?
To find out, I talked with three experts about why, and whether, those of us who are active should consider giving up meat or more. None of the experts are themselves vegan, though two are vegetarian: David C. Nieman, a professor of health and exercise science at Appalachian State University, who’s run 58 marathons or ultramarathons and has studied runners at extreme events; and D. Enette Larson-Meyer, an associate professor of human nutrition at the University of Wyoming, as well as a longtime competitive athlete and author of “Vegetarian Sports Nutrition.” A third expert, Nancy Clark, who describes herself as “two-thirds vegetarian” — she doesn’t have meat at breakfast or lunch, but does at dinner — is a sports nutrition expert in Massachusetts and the author of “Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners.”
Will a vegan diet make someone a better athlete?
Nancy Clark: I was just at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual meeting in San Francisco, and there was a presentation about vegetarian athletes that basically concluded that there’s not enough research to know how vegetarian — let alone vegan — diets affect athletes. But anecdotally, people do fine. It’s possible that some vegan athletes are low on creatine, a nutrient that you get only from meat and that can help during short bouts of intense exercise, like sprinting, though supplementation isn’t necessary. My feeling is that hard training trumps everything. Diet, if it’s healthy, isn’t going to make that much difference.
Is it hard for someone who’s training vigorously to get enough protein on a vegan diet?
David Nieman: The foods that vegans like Scott Jurek avoid, like dairy products and eggs, are the easy ways to get protein in a plant-based diet, obviously. But you still have grains, nuts, soy. Eat enough of that and you’ll be fine. The one issue is vitamin B12, which is found only in meat; B12 is important for endurance athletes, since it affects red blood cell production. But many cereals and soy milks are fortified with B12 now, or you can take supplements.
Nancy Clark: You do have to be diligent about protein intake if you’re vegan. I have clients, especially women, who say, ‘Oh, I put a few chickpeas in my salad.’ But that’s not going to do it. Women need about 60 to 90 grams of protein a day, and athletes are on the high end of that. That means you have to eat cupfuls of chickpeas. And you can’t eat a quarter of that cake of tofu. You need to eat the whole thing. It’s not that there aren’t good sources of vegan protein. But it’s not as bioavailable as meat. So you need to have more.
Is it true that you can combine plant proteins throughout the day to create complete proteins? You don’t have to eat them all at the same meal?
D. Enette Larson-Meyer: Years ago, studies in rats showed that if they were fed only one source of protein, like corn, all day, they did not get sufficient amounts of essential amino acids. From that, the idea grew that you had to combine proteins at the same meal. But since then, other studies have found that if you get multiple sources of protein throughout the day, that’s fine. Have rice at breakfast and beans at lunch or dinner.
Is it hard for someone who’s training vigorously to get enough calories on a vegan diet?
Nancy Clark: It’s not hard at all. My favorite weight gain or weight maintenance advice is to drink juice. Grape juice, pomegranate juice, tart cherry juice. They have plenty of calories, and if you pick the right juice, especially pomegranate or tart cherry juice, it looks as if they can help with recovery. Tart cherry juice was a very popular topic at the recent American College of Sports Medicine meeting. It’s a potent beverage, in terms of speeding recovery. And it’s vegan.
Will vegan or even vegetarian diets help you to lose weight?
David Nieman: Short answer: No. Vegetarians tend to weigh 6 to 10 pounds less than meat eaters. But that’s probably due to self-selection bias. Many vegetarians are more health conscious to start with. You can overeat on a plant-based diet. There are obese vegetarians. Junk food can be vegetarian. You still have to make healthy food choices, whatever your diet.
Because of Scott Jurek’s book and others, there’s some sense out there that athletes should become vegans. Do you agree?
David Nieman: I know Scott. He’s been a subject in some of our studies at the Western States 100. He’s a great guy — opinionated, sure, but he’s been very successful as a racer, so he can have opinions. But runners always think they have inside information on nutrition. They don’t. It’s my duty as a scientist to separate out the hype from what’s been validated.
What we know is that when it comes to endurance performance, it’s all about the fuel, primarily carbohydrates, and you can get sufficient carbohydrates whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat eater — unless you follow a really goofy diet, which some people do. It’s possible to eat a lousy vegetarian diet, just as you as can eat a lousy meat-based diet.
So is there any compelling reason for those of us who are active but not necessarily running ultramarathons to decide to become vegan?
D. Enette Larson-Meyer: In general, vegetarians are healthier, with less risk for heart disease and obesity, although there are obese vegetarians. Many people tell me after they start a vegetarian diet that they feel better, but then again, many of them — and I believe this was the case with Scott Jurek — were eating a pretty poor diet before, so of course they feel better. They could have switched to a healthier meat-based diet and they would probably have felt better.
I like to tell people that if we got most Americans to eat one less serving of meat every day, there would be far greater impact from that, in terms of improving overall public health and the health of the planet, than convincing a tiny group of endurance athletes to go full vegan.
Source: Gretchen Reynolds, NY Times
Cutting-edge research from Boston Children’s Hospital suggests that the type of diet you eat may affect your metabolism, a finding that has important implications for weight maintenance. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week, the study looked at three popular diets (low-carb, low-glycemic, and low-fat) to see which combination of fat, carbs, and protein was the best for people trying to maintain a previous weight loss.
Low-glycemic carbs like beans, lentils, and non-starchy vegetables take a long time for the body to absorb and appear to be more effective at satisfying hunger.
Because decreases in metabolism can contribute to weight regain, the researchers aimed to see which eating plan worked best with the body’s internal mechanisms to rev up dieters’ calorie burn and help them keep the weight off.
The low-glycemic diet emerged as the top-performing plan, giving people a significant metabolic boost without causing undesirable side effects. Participants burned approximately 125 more calories per day while following the low-glycemic plan compared to when eating a low-fat diet. While the low-carb diet had an even better effect on metabolism than the low-glycemic plan, the low-carb diet also produced the highest levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and CRP (a marker of inflammation). These factors may raise the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
The low-glycemic diet offered a happy medium. It helped stabilize blood sugar and metabolism, and also had a beneficial impact on inflammation, stress hormones, and other heart-health markers.
A low-glycemic diet focuses on choosing the right types of carbohydrates that keep us feeling fuller for longer. High-glycemic carbs like white bread, white rice, potatoes and sugary baked goods are digested quickly and cause a dramatic spike in blood sugar, leaving the body hungry and less satisfied. On the other hand, lower-glycemic carbs like beans, lentils, and non-starchy vegetables take a long time for the body to absorb and appear to be more effective at satisfying hunger, leading you to eat less and potentially lose weight. A low-glycemic diet includes moderate amounts of fiber-rich beans, lentils, non-starchy vegetables, fruit and whole grains, as well as lean proteins (fish, skinless poultry, whole soy) and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, vegetables oils).
A typical breakfast for the participants adhering to the low-glycemic index diet consisted of a scrambled egg, whole grain cereal, 1% milk, grapefruit sections, and sunflower seeds. A sample lunch includes a mixed salad with olive oil vinaigrette, chili with beans, orange slices and yogurt, while dinner might feature fish, green beans, a mixed salad and a small portion of pasta with olive oil. Snacks included fresh fruit and string cheese.
A low-glycemic diet is a smart, healthy, manageable way to lose weight and keep it off for the long-term. If you’re looking to give this plan a try, be sure to take advantage of this handy low-glycemic shopping list created by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital.