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8 post-workout meal ideas

 

 

 

Breakfast

  • Poached eggs with grilled ham off the bone, avocado and two slices of wholegrain or spelt toast.
  • 200 grams of Greek yoghurt (Chobani) with half or one cup of oats, and some berries and sliced almonds.
  • A breakfast smoothie consisting of your milk of choice, a couple of scoops of Greek yoghurt, a frozen banana, sprinkle of cinnamon and half a cup of oats.

Dinner

  • Between 150-200 grams of salmon or chicken with 200 grams of sweet potato and as many steamed greens as you like.
  • Between 150-200 gram of lean protein with one cup of brown rice and a side salad.

Snacks

  • A frozen fruit smoothie with your milk of choice, nut butter and Greek yoghurt.
  • 200 grams of Greek yoghurt with sliced fruit and nuts.
  • A protein shake made with a base of your choice (water, coconut water or milk) and a piece of fruit to provide fibre.

NEXT: Not sure what protein to go for? Read all about them here.

 

 

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Nut butters uncovered

 

 

“Nut butters are a good source of protein and good fats, some better than others! Try and pick a nut butter without too much oil, salt or sugar added,” says McGrice. “Many people use nut butter and butter together; it’s better to use one or the other.”

Raw vs roasted
Roasting nuts changes their flavour, but apparently not their nutrition. Raw nuts tend to have slightly less rich and toasty flavours than roasted nuts, so many commercial nut butters use a roasted product. “Roasting doesn’t affect the nuts themselves, but when they roast the nuts, they are often roasted in oil, increasing the fat content,” says McGrice. According to Nutrition Australia, nuts are capable of absorbing two to five per cent of the oil they are cooked in. Roasting nuts also takes out some moisture content, concentrating the nutrients.

‘No added’ vs natural
While both ‘no added’ and natural nut butters are better for you than traditional nut butters, a ‘natural’ label implies that your nut butter is free from preservatives, stabilisers, sugar and salt – i.e. it’s literally 100 per cent nuts. Whereas a ‘no added’ nut butter means you still get peanuts, vegetables oils and preservatives, sans the sugar and salt.

Peanut butter
Peanuts are higher in protein than most nuts and a source of vitamin E and good fats. Traditional peanut butters have a paste-like texture and a rich, sweet and salty flavour. Natural, or pure state, nut butters tend to be drier than commercial butters.

Almond butter
Almonds are low in cholesterol and a good source of magnesium, manganese and good fats. They are also rich in calcium and vitamin E. Almond butter tends to have a more mellow and fresh taste than peanut butters, and their consistency tends to be looser and coarser.

Macadamia butter
Macadamias are quite low in protein compared to most nuts, but are uniquely high in monounsaturated fats (the most of all nuts). They can lower cholesterol and contain thiamine and manganese. Macadamia butter tends to be thinner and oiler than peanut butter, and has a rich and almost fruity taste.

Cashew butter
Cashews are a good source of iron and magnesium and also have a low glycaemic index. Cashew butters usually have a pasty texture and a sweet and rich flavour.

Walnut Butter
Walnuts have been proven to boost brain function and reduce cholesterol. They contain omega-3 fats as well as folate and fibre. Walnut butter tends to be crumbly and less soft and spreadable than other nut butters. It can have an intense woody or ‘green’ taste.

Coconut butter
Clean eating uber-star coconut butter can be subbed in for butter as a spread and used in stir-fries. While the dietetic jury’s hung on just where it ranks in the health stakes, it was recently found to be preferable to polyunsaturated soybean oil despite being saturated fat. A University of California study found that replacing coconut oil with soybean oil caused more weight gain, adiposity, diabetes and insulin resistance.

NEXT: Check more healthy fats to include in your healthy eating regime.

 

 

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Strengthen your immunity with these top foods

Lifestyle factors such as exercising regularly, reducing stress and avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking, all have a positive impact on your belly bacteria. However, food should be your top priority and is the best first-line treatment to boost the health of your microbiome and, in turn, strengthen your immunity.

 

 

Eat resistant starch: “This kind of fibre resists digestion and when it reaches the colon it is fermented by the bacteria there to produce by-products called short chain fatty acids,” says Dr Jane Muir, head of Translational Nutrition Science in the Department of Gastroenterology at Monash University. “In particular, it increases the production of a short chain fatty acid called butyrate, which is very important to keeping the lining of the gut healthy. Butyrate also has a range of other effects, which indicate that it may help to prevent inflammation and reduce the risk of colon cancer.” Foods high in resistant starch include oats, lentils, bananas, cashews and potato that has been cooked and cooled.

Plate up with plant foods: Bad bacteria can multiply super fast. In fact, after just two days of eating an animal-based diet of meat and dairy including bacon, ribs and cheese, people show a growth in potentially problematic bacteria in their gut, shows Harvard research. They also experience higher colonisation of fungi and viruses, and more microorganisms that can trigger inflammatory bowel disease within 24 hours of eating excessive meat and diary. By contrast, the levels of good belly bacteria rapidly improve when individuals are placed on a vegetable-only diet for several days. The take-home? Opt for the broccoli.

Enjoy natural prebiotics: Think foods such as asparagus, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory, onions, leek and garlic. “Prebiotics are fibre compounds that pass undigested through the stomach and small intestine,” says Muir. “When prebiotics arrive in the large intestine, they promote the growth and activity of beneficial (probiotic) bacteria that live there. Having a healthy balance of gut bacteria benefits your digestion, absorption of minerals and immune system function. In short, it’s a win-win for your health.”

Serve a little sauerkraut: Fermented foods are high in probiotics – live bacteria that can help prevent harmful bacteria from attaching to your gut lining and growing there. They can also destroy toxins released by certain ‘bad’ bacteria that can make you sick. If that’s not enough,  probiotics send signals to your cells to nourish the mucus in your intestine, helping it act as a barrier against infection.

Fermented foods can also help to trigger proteins that protect the lining of your gut, shows research from Yale University. “But make sure you listen to your body – if you get symptoms of belly discomfort in relation to certain fermented foods, they may be upsetting your microbiome,” says naturopath and natural health consultant with Doctor Earth in Sydney, Sarah Luck. “Rotating your ferments can ensure a good balance. So during the week on different days, include sauerkraut, lacto-fermented cucumbers, miso (if you tolerate soy), kefir (a probiotic milk drink) and kimchi (a fermented Korean vegetable side dish) in your diet.”

You might also want to take probiotic supplements. “The improvements for digestive complaints usually start to become evident after a week or two of taking probiotics,” Luck explains. “Benefits to skin, mood and general health take a bit longer but usually kick in after a few weeks.”

Eat less carbs: Carbs are the preferred source of fuel for unhealthy bacteria, so loading up on sugars or refined carbs such as white bread and sweet biscuits can compromise your gut health. Instead, opt for wholegrains, and when you eat bread go for a rye sourdough, which is high in fibre and also contains beneficial bacteria from its starter culture.

Cut the chardonnays and coffees: Alcohol can increase the levels of gram-negative bacteria in your belly, which are notorious for causing immune system reactions. This family of bacteria causes an increase in endotoxins, which can be absorbed via the intestine into your bloodstream, then taxied via the portal vein to your liver. Once there, endotoxins can overload the Kupffer cells that help your liver do its filtering work. This can lead the Kupffer cells to activate inflammation in the liver too. Just one episode of binge drinking can cause enough damage to trigger leaky gut, shows research from the Massachusetts Medical School.

On the other hand, your morning espresso can increase acid production in your gut (even if it’s decaffeinated) and also irritate the lining of your stomach, getting in the way of leaky gut repair. The good news is that once you cut the coffee, the mucosal lining of your gut can start to repair and regenerate in as little as 48 hours, shows research from Charles University.

 

 

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How to build your own meal plan

 

 

Protein

Protein is a necessity for fat loss, muscle gains and optimal function of all the cells in your body. “Of the major macronutrients such as carbohydrates and fats, protein rates higher on the satiety scale, which means it makes people feel full for longer after a meal,” says Melanie McGrice, dietitian and spokesperson for the Australian Dietitians Association. “This may be in part because protein helps to suppress levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.”

Unlike many carbohydrates, protein does not cause a large spike in your blood glucose, which is good news for your waistline. “Keeping your blood glucose stable means that your insulin levels don’t spike, which can reduce your risk of developing weight gain and diabetes type 2,” says McGrice. According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, the current recommended daily intake (RDI) for women is 46g per day and 64g for men – which equates to protein roughly the size of your palm.

As well as driving or curbing your appetite, protein may rev up your body’s ability to burn fat. These waist-whittling benefits were highlighted in a study conducted at Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in Louisiana. When subjects were fed 40 per cent more kilojoules than usual, researchers found people eating a low protein diet not only stored 90 per cent of that excess energy as fat, they also lost more muscle – bad news for your metabolism. By contrast, people eating a higher protein, higher kilojoule diet gained less weight while simultaneously gaining more lean muscle.

Though lean meat is certainly a good protein source, research suggests most people already eat far too much of it – particularly red meat, which is high in saturated fat. So don’t forget to include some plant sources of protein in your diet plan, such as pulses and legumes. It’s a fallacy that you have to become a master of seeds, nuts and beans to ensure intake of all the nine essential amino acids found in meat. “Biochemistry has now shown us that as long as you’ve had a variety of plant-based foods over the course of a day or so, your body will take the amino acids from the ones it needs, as it needs them,” explains Stanton. “Plant foods also contain non-haem iron, which some experts believe may be a healthier form of iron than haem iron, which is found in meat.”

 

Good Sources:

» Fish, including salmon, tuna and mackerel

» Lean chicken, turkey, beef and lamb

» Legumes and pulses, such as chickpeas, lentils, tempeh and edamame beans

» Seed grains such as quinoa

 

Fruit and vegetables

Vegetables are low in fat and high in fibre so they promote weight loss and help you maintain a healthy weight. Fibre-rich plant foods actually take up more space in your stomach, triggering a response in the nerve-stretch receptors in your stomach wall, and quickly trigger hormones that tell you that you’re full, shows research from the University of Sussex. Bye-bye unhealthy morning or afternoon snacks.

As vegetables are packed with antioxidants and polyphenols, they may help reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes and depression and also offer protection against cancer.

If you struggle to love foods such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower or eggplant, then you need to try giving them a makeover:

» Pairing foods: you don’t like a lot (broccoli) with food you do like (parmesan cheese).

» Keeping it varied: check out meal ideas on blogs and websites. If you get bored you are less likely to stick to your meat-free days.

» Re-thinking your snacks: make mini vegetable-balls and serve with tamari, or whip up some dips like hummus or guacamole and serve with carrot, cucumber and celery sticks.

» Spinning an old style: go beyond different green varieties of salads and try salsas, bean or roast vegie salads, and salads mixing lots of vegetables with a little wholemeal pasta or quinoa. With mashes, try broccoli or pumpkin or cauliflower, with a little stock (rather than milk and butter) and top with a crumbling of goat’s cheese.

» Dressing or spicing them up: your taste buds will atrophy if you keep serving boiled vegies night after night. So mix it up. Bake sweet potato and top with a little pesto; add a tamari and orange juice sauce to beans topped with almond slivers; and sauté or water stir-fry a mix of vegetables together, such as parsnip and pumpkin or zucchini and capsicum, then add a dash of oil and oyster sauce.

» Make vegetable boats: stuff potatoes with beans and fill vegies such as capsicums and tomatoes with a quinoa and vegetable mix. Use lettuce leaves like cups or bread. Scoop out the middle of a cooked zucchini, add to a mix of rice, garlic, mushrooms and capsicum then refill the zucchini shells with the mix.

 

Good Sources:

» Blue/purple: blueberries, plums, black grapes, red cabbage, beetroot, eggplant

» Red: tomatoes, capsicum, watermelon, pink grapefruit, rosehips, strawberries

» Yellow: lemons, pineapple, limes, grapefruit, star fruit, paw paw

» Green: cabbage, zucchini, avocado, asparagus, spinach, pears

» Brown: rye bread, brown rice, oats, wholemeal pasta, flaxseed, soybeans

» White: onions, garlic, parsnips, potatoes, cauliflower, white nectarines

 

Wholegrains

Grains are high in carbohydrate, vital for energy production, concentration and mood. They are low in fat, which is good for your heart and your weight. Plus they are good sources of protein and provide your body with fibre, vitamins and minerals. Wholegrains are particularly beneficial because they still contain bran, endosperm and germ, which are all higher in fibre and nutrients. According to the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC): “Wholegrains contain more than 26 nutrients and phytonutrients, which are bioactive substances thought to play a role in disease protection.”

They contain:

» Dietary fibre: such as lignans, beta-glucan and soluble pentosans

» Vitamins: especially B-group vitamins and antioxidant vitamin E

» Minerals: including iron, zinc, magnesium and selenium

» Many bioactive phytochemicals: including phytoesterols (which help lower cholesterol) and carotenoids (which act as antioxidants).

“There is now strong and growing evidence that regular consumption of grain foods, specifically wholegrain, play an important role in disease protection,” says the GLNC. Studies in the USA, UK and Europe consistently report that the consumption of wholegrain foods reduces overall disease risk and death from all causes. If you have issues with gluten, use gluten-free grains such as buckwheat.

 

Good Sources:

» Rye

» Stoneground wholemeal flour

» Spelt

» Brown rice

» Steel cut oats

» Freekah

» Bulgur

» Buckwheat

 

Dairy

There is plenty of evidence to justify dairy foods as part of a healthy diet plan, beyond the well-known perk of helping to strengthen bones.

Foods such as kefir and yoghurt provide good live bacteria to benefit gut health. Research from the University of Copenhagen has also shown that cheese appears to boost levels of butyrate, a compound that is produced by gut bacteria and has numerous benefits for overall health. Full-fat milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter products may also be healthier than previously thought. Harvard research shows that they contain trans-palitoleic acids (TPA), fatty acids linked to healthier levels of blood cholesterol, lower inflammation, stable insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity. This may be why high-fat yoghurt and cheese are now being linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Along with gluten, a growing number of people have been steering clear of dairy foods in recent years. In addition to true lactose intolerance, some people find that foods such as milk and cheese contribute to stomach upsets, acne or pimple outbreaks, headaches and skin rashes. The answer? Try goat or sheep’s milk: many sensitive individuals tolerate these dairy forms better than the cow version because it has a closer make-up to the human breast milk we consume as babies.

Good Sources:

» Plain pot-set Greek yoghurt

» Kefir

» Goat’s or sheep’s cheese

» Cheese

» Milk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jessica Sepel’s top tips for nourishment

 

 

 

Count macros, not calories: our bodies and metabolism are regulated by so many things other than calories, so how you burn a meal will depend on your hormones, stress levels, fitness and environment. Instead, ensure you have protein, good fat, carbohydrate and greens at every meal. Nutrients are what make you feel satisfied so you don’t over-eat.

Tune in to your body: portion control does have its place, so be present and mindful when you’re eating. I want to teach people to reconnect to their appetite – we are so busy reading different health advice that we have stopped listening to our own bodies. 

Keep it simple: as soon as I see a recipe with more than five ingredients, I can’t even look at it. Simplify health and make it a less daunting experience. Some of the best meals of mine are created using very few ingredients.

Discover more fat loss tips from celebrity trainer Alexa Towersey.

 

 

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The importance of protein intake post-workout

 

Protein is vital post-workout in order to kick-start the body’s recovery process. Here, Hilary Simmons explores the importance of timing and balance for health.

According to research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN), the ability to build lean muscle mass is elevated for 24 to 48 hours after training. During this window – otherwise known as the anabolic phase – the body is greedy for nutrients, the muscles hungrily suck in glucose and your overall ability to process protein is significantly raised.

 

In practice, if you’re training most days, then your body is in a constant state of recovery and it’s therefore important to be consuming protein regularly across the day, especially if you’re trying to build lean muscle mass.

Accredited sports dietitian, Jessica Spendlove notes that building lean muscle mass is one of the better and more conclusively researched areas in the sports nutrition space, with two clear elements to consider if you’re aiming for muscle hypertrophy:

 

» Protein timing. Protein is required to build and repair muscle tissue. Not eating enough can hinder your gains, so this is where the timing, distribution and composition of your meals comes into play.

» Energy balance. While muscle hypertrophy requires a calorie surplus, shedding body fat requires an energy deficit – in other words, you need to consume less calories than you use.

Consuming enough protein will be vital to both goals: for the former, to ensure a surplus and, for the latter, to preserve muscle mass.

This doesn’t mean you need to freak out that the anabolic window of opportunity is going to close the minute your workout ends. While it’s wise to bookend your training with a balanced post-workout snack (think a banana with nut butter or a protein shake), you have one to two hours to reap the benefits of your body’s heightened nutrient-processing abilities.

Good post-workout nutrition will always have three key components:

» Slow release carbohydrate (such as oats, wholegrain sourdough, quinoa, sweet potato, brown rice and bananas) to replenish muscle glycogen stores.

» Good quality protein (such as Greek yoghurt, eggs, milk, chicken, turkey, tuna or protein powder) to support muscle recovery.

» Fluid. In fact, this goes for pre-, intra- and post-workout nutrition.

The post-workout period is also a great time for you to enjoy an açaí bowl, or loads and loads of vegies. According to Spendlove, many people go wrong by undereating on the days they have trained, when they can actually afford to eat more. In fact, their bodies will utilise the nutrients better.

“For example, a 60kg woman may be completing a mix of HIIT, LISS and weights every week night. She may eat really ‘clean’ throughout the week, focusing on lean protein, lots of vegetables and minimal carbohydrate intake,” says Spendlove.

“But on the weekends she may eat out most meals, have alcohol both nights and be more relaxed about portion sizes. What can easily happen here is a total mismatch of intake and output. Her high intake days are her lowest output days, and this is not ideal. Aim to match your intake to your output.”

In addition, if you undereat or under-nourish your body during your recovery phase, it can lead to appetite spikes later in the day – or into the next – often resulting in overeating.

“We all understand when we’re trying to lose weight that we need to be in an energy deficit, but weight loss and, more importantly, body fat loss is a lot more complex than that,” says Spendlove. “To most effectively lose body fat we need to strike the right balance between what we are eating and the training we are doing. One of the biggest mistakes I see women make is over-restricting on training days or around intense training sessions, but then end up over-eating on low output days. Post-workout nutrition is important, but you need to pay attention to pre-workout and intra-workout nutrition as well in order for it to succeed.”

By the same token, athletes and individuals who train most days have 50 to 100 per cent higher protein requirements than inactive or sedentary people. During periods of significant physical adaptation, such as when an individual is first beginning to workout, protein needs are greatly increased.

“When we talk about protein intake for muscle hypertrophy, the key elements are the type of protein, the timing of protein intake, and the distribution of protein intake across the day, as well as the total intake,” says Spendlove. “Most people are consuming enough total protein across the day, but they are possibly not consuming it at the right time or in the right amounts. You can make an enormous difference to your diet and fitness goals by focusing on distributing your intake more evenly.”

 

 

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