Answered by Debbie J., MS, RD
1. What does a good diet consist of?
A good diet consists of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats in an amount that meets your energy needs. Complex carbohydrates are generally those from vegetables, beans, whole grains and cereals. These are better at stabilizing blood sugar and limiting fat production than refined flour products since they take longer to digest.
Lean proteins are those with little fat — less than half the number of fat grams than protein grams. By USDA definition, a 3 ounce serving of lean meat has no more than 10 grams total fat (but provides approximately 21 grams protein). Lean choices include poultry breast, 90% fat-free meat, egg whites, beans, pork loin, and most fish. Healthy fats are those with unsaturated fatty acids, as found in most plant sources such as nuts, seeds, oils, avocado and olives.
A good diet should also be rich in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, which is addressed further in the answer to question #9.
2. How can I choose the best protein shake for me?
a) Clearly define what you want to accomplish by using a protein shake. Is it for extra calories? As a pre-workout boost? A recovery drink for muscle repair? An on-the-go convenience?
b) Determine whether you want a ready-to-drink option or a powder that you can add your own liquid of choice to. Your preference may limit your options, as will finding your favorite flavor. A protein shake only works if you’ll drink it.
c) For protein content look for the number of grams to fall between 10 and 30 per serving. Select a shake toward the low-end of the range for smaller builds, lighter workouts or if you are trying to consume the fewest amount of calories. Choose the upper end of the range for extra calories, larger builds and heavier workouts.
d) Consider other ingredients according to your goals. For a meal replacement, you’ll need carbohydrates and fats. In a pre-workout shake you may want creatine. During recovery you might benefit from antioxidants.
3. Carbs should not be eaten after 6 p.m., right? Why is this?
According to whom? You should ask the source of that statement. Eating carbohydrates after a certain time of day is only detrimental if they are extra calories. Simple sugars are never advised, except for those naturally found in fruit, milk or plain yogurt. Omitting starches (rice, potatoes, pasta, bread) at the last meal of the day is fine if meat and vegetables are sufficient in calories.
4. What are some good things to eat for those midnight cravings?
Try to satisfy what the mind/taste buds want with healthy options of salty, crunchy, creamy, cool or sweet. Whatever you do, stay away from the ice cream and chips! Good ideas include: popcorn, grapes, string cheese, cup of soup, small bowl of cereal, yogurt cup, hard-cooked egg, pretzels, half a sandwich, frozen blueberries, turkey jerky, raw vegetables with hummus and dried seaweed.
5. Is it safe to eat peanut butter? How often?
Peanut butter is safe except for those who have an allergy. Natural versions without added sweeteners are recommended. Daily consumption is fine. Volume matters more than frequency, as a small 2 tablespoon serving packs 180 calories. Paired with celery and carrot sticks, this amount is a great choice for a snack. Spread on whole grain bread and combine with fruit, milk and broccoli for a full meal. Blended with banana, protein powder and soymilk makes for a satisfying smoothie.
6. What are some good sources to follow for fitness tips and advice (mainly diet to maintain or build abs)? (people, websites, social media, etc.)
We have amazing resources that publish every week! You can subscribe to receive advice and tips on your mobile device and email.
Living Healthy Blog http://blog.lafitness.com
Google Plus https://plus.google.com/+lafitness/posts
Twitter https://twitter.com/lafitness, @LAFitness
7. How long should the gap between eating and working out be?
Long enough for the food consumed to clear the stomach and be converted into energy for the muscles to use. A small piece of fruit may need only 20 minutes, whereas a full meal make take 3-4 hours to completely digest and enter the bloodstream. The timing can also depend on what’s being eaten and the duration of exercise. Early morning risers may not tolerate anything solid upon waking and opt to drink a small glass of juice immediately before exercising. Others are comfortable with more in their stomachs pre-workout, such as endurance athletes who don’t want to interrupt training so often to eat.
8. What are some foods to avoid?
Avoid fried foods, sugary condiments (honey, syrup, jelly), sodas, white flour products and alcohol. These are sources of extra calories with marginally few micronutrients. Processed meats should also be avoided since they’ve been linked to higher BMI values, heart disease and cancer according to a European study.
9. What are good vitamin and mineral sources? (general examples)
Vitamins and minerals are abundant in these types of food:
Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa,
Dark green leafy vegetables
Legumes (beans, soy, peanuts)
Nuts and Seeds
Fruit (especially berries, citrus, and tropical fruit)
10. Do you recommend the daily use of My Fitness Pal and why/why not?
Recording and tracking devices, apps and websites are wonderful tools! Yes, I recommend them for individuals who either need to get a grasp on what they’re currently eating, or need to stay accountable in keeping to their intake goals. After a few weeks, I find the feedback value often wears off as the process becomes more about writing data down. So ongoing daily use may not be effective.
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