Thursday, February 7, 2013

GAPSA SHAPE Nutrition Workshop Tidbits

Today, I attended a nutrition workshop put on by GAPSA as a part of the SHAPE Challenge.  I initially signed up because I could get a participation point towards SHAPE while getting free lunch, but I managed to get more out of the seminar than just some food!  Our speaker, Katy Meassick (MA, RD, LDN, ATC... jeez, that's a lotta letters after her name!) specializes in athletic nutrition and provided some great insight into how to meet our dietary needs and build good habits.  

Below are some tidbits that I took away from today's seminar that I thought may be useful to others:

  • You must eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up in order to kick-start your metabolism.  If you don't eat breakfast at all right now, start small with something like a granola bar.  Eventually, you'll need to work your way up to include at 3 of the 5 food groups in your breakfast (think half a peanut butter-banana sandwich or yogurt with granola and an apple).  If you wake up hungry, it's a sign that you've trained your metabolism to hit the ground running. 
  • You should eat a meal or a snack every 4 hours to avoid hunger (which then usually leads to binges) or roller coaster blood glucose and energy levels.
  • A healthy snack includes a carbohydrate and protein.  You brain (which controls your body) runs off glucose, which is provided by carbs.  You need carbs for your body to work at full efficiency.
  • Eat 60 minutes before you exercise-- just 100 calories of carbs is enough to make sure you have the (healthy) sugar your body needs for your workout.  A good idea to avoid adding in extra food is to split the nearest meal to your workout in half.  For example, eat half your lunch before your workout (so you don't get too full and get cramps but still have energy) and the other half after.
  • Create a 20-30 minute pre-sleep routine that eliminates all electronics (TV, phone).  Try reading before bed; if you use an eReader, only use the kind that has back-lighting where the screen looks like a book (not an iPad, for example) to avoid suppressing your melatonin levels.
  • To estimate the grams of protein you should have in your diet, multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.8.  You may need more protein if you are very active, but note that your kidneys can only metabolism so much protein at a time-- overloading on protein (e.g., protein shake after protein shake after protein shake) will overwork and potentially damage your kidneys if you are not careful.
  • When setting goals, mandate a behavior or habit, NOT an outcome.  Mandating an outcome (e.g., "lose 10 pounds") will set you up for failure and put you at risk for forming bad habits or short-term, non-sustainable fixes.
  • You should have 5-9 half-cup servings of fruits/veggies a day.
  • To determine the amount of water in ounces you should drink in a day, take your weight in pounds and divide by 2; however, if you are smaller, you should drink no less than 64 ounces of water.  And we're talking plain old H2O here... coffee doesn't count!
  • To drink more water, carry around a water bottle.  And don't just throw it in your bag-- actually CARRY it in your hand.  You'll drink more if you have that visual and tactile reminder.  You can also try setting phone reminders.  You should be peeing at least every 2 hours if you're drinking enough.
  • If you're thirsty, you're already 2% dehydrated.  Don't let yourself get to the point of thirsty.
  • Peas, corn, and potatoes all count as a starch, NOT a vegetable. 
  • Beans count as a protein.
  • When portioning your meals, always eat on a plate.  As a rough guideline, a 10 inch plate should be half fruits/veggies, one quarter starch/whole grains, and one quarter protein.
  • When baking, replace half the fat (e.g., oil) in the recipe with applesauce or a squashed banana.
Importantly, if you are a Penn student covered by PSIP, the student health insurance, you have access to nutritionists at Student Health Services for no extra charge!  What may cost you a hefty sum once you graduate and have a real job (nutrition is not included in normal insurance plans unless you have a condition like diabetes), you can get for free right now.  What a great benefit that I had no idea we had until today! 

Were any of these tidbits new to you?  Which new habit are you going to try to adopt (breakfast within 30 mins of waking up, 64 or more oz of water, portioning your plate, 5-9 servings fruits/veggies, pre-sleep routine, eating at least every 4 hours, etc.)?   

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