Nutrition

HIIT + Interval Training: What to Eat to Recover

Blueberries Eggs Avocado HIIT

Studies show that high-intensity interval training or HIIT (i.e. short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by short rest periods) has been linked to weight loss, an increase in both aerobic and anaerobic fitness, and strengthening of muscles. It’s also ideal for those short on time.

And if you’re adding HIIT to your routine to help you reach your fitness goals, it’s important that you pair it with the right nutrition. Refueling your body post-workout with the right types of foods aids in muscle repair and growth and can help to replace energy that was lost during your workout.

You should look to refuel your body no later than 60 to 90 minutes after your HIIT workout. This provides your muscles with what they need to replenish their glycogen stores adequately.

So, if 2019 is the year that you give HIIT a try, make sure that you’re also choosing the right nutrients after your workout. To get you started, you can check out the four food suggestions below!

1. Eggs

Eggs are one of the best — and my personal favorite — foods for after a workout. They’re a powerhouse of nutrition, with a significant amount of protein and healthy fats — around 7 grams and 5 grams respectively per egg.

Eggs are also considered a “complete protein” source. This means that they contain all nine of the essential amino acids, which have been linked to aiding in muscle recovery. Eggs also contain B vitamins, which can aid in energy production.

2. Blueberries

My grandma always told me the secret to her longevity was eating blueberries. Blueberries are both delicious and packed with dietary fiber, vitamins, protein, and antioxidants.

Aging and exercise cause some type of oxidative stress, or an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. For this reason, it’s important to include antioxidant-rich foods in your everyday diet. What’s more, eating blueberries after a workout has been linked to accelerated muscle recovery time.

3. Avocado

Avocados are not only delicious but also a great source of magnesium — which is excellent of muscle recovery. Avocado also contains 14 percent of your daily value of potassium, which can help to regulate fluid balance and controlling electrical activity of the heart and other muscles.

What’s more, avocado is a great source of folate and vitamins C, K, and B-6, all of which are anti-inflammatory nutrients, which can help reduce inflammation in the body that may be caused by exercise-induced stress.

4. Green leafy vegetables

Much like blueberries, green leafy vegetables are part of my go-to post-workout food. They’re chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They’re also low in calories.

These types of vegetables are also high in antioxidants and can help to minimize the free radicals that may be released during HIIT training.

There’s a large variety of leafy green vegetables to choose from, but some of the more popular ones include kale, spinach, arugula and watercress.

Try throwing some frozen spinach into your post-workout smoothies — about two big handfuls. It tends to blend easier when frozen, meaning you won’t be able to taste it, not to mention it makes your smoothie extra cold!

Eat This, Not That: Farro

Farro Dos Toros

I recently went to Dos Toro for the first time and was offered farro as a substitute for rice. Being that the farro was brown and looked closer to a whole grain, I opted for the farro.

But What Exactly is Farro?

Farro is an ancient wheat grain. Contrary to popular belief, farro does not refer to one type of grain. Rather, it's Italian for "ancient wheat grain" and often used to describe three different grains.

The kind that's most commonly found in the US and Europe is emmer wheat. It's sold dry and prepared by cooking it in water until it's soft and chewy.

Before it's cooked it looks similar to wheat berries, but afterward it looks similar to barley. It's a small, light-brown grain with a noticeable outer layer of bran.

It can be eaten alone or as an ingredient in dishes like stews, salads and soups. It can also be mixed with fruit and cream and eaten in a similar style to granola or muesli.

Without further ado, here are the top health benefits of farro.

1. Farro is Rich in Fiber

One cup of farro contains 12 grams of fiber, so depending on your gender, you’ll be either a third or halfway to getting your daily allotment of fiber with a single cup of this super grain. That’s the fiber equivalent of eating four medium-sized bananas.

2. Farro Provides 28 grams of Protein

Protein is a macronutrient that’s considered to be the primary building block of the human body as it helps build muscle, tissue, and cells. While protein shouldn’t compose the majority of your daily nutrition intake, it’s true that it’s essential to good health. Eating foods packed with protein like farro will help you stay healthy, gain strength, and lose weight. One cup of farro provides 28 grams of protein, which is equivalent to a 3-ounce portion of sirloin steak.

3. Full of Antioxidants

Farro, like other whole grains, can be an important source of the antioxidants that protect you from harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals can cause cell damage that is thought to result in certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, stroke. If you’ve been trying to eat a few bars of dark chocolate a day or blending up some Goji berry smoothies, you now have another option for an antioxidant fix.

4. Low Calorie & Low Fat

Some varieties of farro are fat free – yes, you can get all those antioxidants, fibers, and proteins, without any fat grams. And if you’re counting calories, farro will be a go-to ingredient for you.

5. Farro is Loaded With Nutrients & Vitamins

Farro is an excellent source of nutrients like magnesium, zinc and some B vitamins.

So next time you’re given the option, think about opting for the farro — a much healthier alternative to white rice or other refined grains.

Ten Nutrition Tips That We (Almost) All Agree With: Part 1

Fitness Protein Low Carb

Between the Pinterest boards full of protein diets, the endless weight loss tips we see online and the countless low-carb diet foods we see in the grocery store, it’s getting more difficult to determine what we should and shouldn’t be eating.  VarCity HQ did a little leg work for you and scoured the internet for the common themes we saw from nutritionists throughout the internet. 

Below is VarCity’s Part 1 of our top 10 list of nutrition rules that almost all experts agree with: 

1. Added Sugar Is a Disaster

To improve the taste of processed foods, producers often add sugar to them. This type of sugar is known as added sugar (e.g. sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup).

It is definitely true that added sugar contains empty calories. There are no nutrients in it, other than sugar. As a result, basing your diet on products high in added sugar may contribute to nutrient deficiencies.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other risks associated with excessive sugar intake that are now reaching mainstream attention.

Added sugar is being implicated as a leading cause of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

This is because fructose is metabolized strictly by the liver. High intake has been linked with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, insulin resistance, elevated triglycerides, abdominal obesity and high cholesterol over time.

However, the role of fructose in disease is controversial and scientists do not fully understand how it works.

SUMMARY
Added sugar provides empty calories and is believed to be a leading cause of diseases that kill millions of people each year.

2. Omega-3 Fats Are Crucial and Most People Don't Get Enough

Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for the proper functioning of the human body.  Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid derived from animals, makes up about 10–20% of the total fat content in the brain.

A low intake of omega-3 is associated with a lower IQ, depression, various mental disorders, heart disease and many other serious diseases.

There are three main types of omega-3 fats: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

ALA comes mostly from plant oils, while the best sources of EPA and DHA are fatty fish proteins, fish oils and certain algal oils. Other good sources of EPA and DHA are grass-fed meat and omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs.

The plant form, ALA, needs to be transformed into DHA or EPA to function correctly in the human body. However, this conversion process is inefficient in humans.  Therefore, it is best to eat plenty of protein rich foods high in DHA and EPA.

SUMMARY
A large part of the population is not getting enough omega-3 fats from their diet. Avoiding a deficiency in these essential fatty acids may help prevent many diseases.

BPA Free: What You Need to Know

BPA Free

BPA.  We’ve all heard of it, we’ve seen the BPA Free labels and we know it somehow involves plastic.  But what is BPA really and how can we move closer to being BPA free?  

BPA or bisphenol-A is a potentially toxic estrogen-mimicking compound used in plastic production that has been linked to breast cancer, early puberty, infertility, and other maladies. It’s dangerous enough that it has been banned in baby bottles in Europe, Canada, and even China–but not in the U.S.  It’s in water bottles, store receipts, soup cans, and plastic-packaged foods, and many more products we encounter on a daily basis.  

Here’s 5 things you can do today to cut back on your BPA exposure:

  • Drink tap water or rely on BPA-free stainless steel water bottles (from companies like Nalgene or Sigg) instead of slugging down bottled water.

  • Instead of eating microwavable meals that come out of plastic containers, eat only freshly-prepared, organic foods.

  • Instead of using plastic utensils, rely on the longer-lasting variety.

  • Steer clear of plastic storage containers for leftover food. Instead, use glass containers along with BPA-free plastic lids. The food should not touch the lids.  

  • Instead of using a plastic coffee-maker or going out for coffee, use a French press or ceramic drip. 

So while being BPA free may not be possible for most of us, there’s no harm in trying, and certainly no harm in reducing the poisonous toxins in your body.