Category

Nutrition

Straight Talk About Iron: What Women Need to Know

By | Nutrition

By Carol Harrison, RD

Iron is vital for women’s health, yet it’s rarely top of mind. Many of the women in your fitness class are likely unaware of the vital role that iron plays in optimizing health. Beyond the basics about iron, which I’ve written about before, here are the top three things to know about iron and women’s health.

There is no test to provide an early warning about low iron.

Iron is needed to carry oxygen to all parts of our bodies, including our muscles and brains. If iron is in short supply, our bodies will deprive our tissues of iron to ensure that there is enough of it in our blood. This means that by the time a blood test indicates low iron, we have long overshot the point of insufficient iron for optimal health.

Food for thought:  The importance of iron can get lost in the buzz about plant-based eating. Beef is one of the richest non-fortified food sources of well-absorbed iron. Advice to cut back further from what Canadians currently eat (two servings of fresh beef per week, on average) could make it challenging for some women to get sufficient iron. Some plant foods provide iron (and many other important nutrients including fibre), but the type they contain is less well absorbed.

Think optimal iron, not just preventing deficiency.

Your clients may complain of low energy, irritability, headaches or brain fog. They might ask you how they can eat for energy. One possible solution is to ensure they’re meeting their iron needs. Given that there is no good early warning test for low iron, the best advice is to be mindful of the importance of iron and to eat iron-rich foods daily to optimize your iron levels prior to detection of deficiency. Optimization is the key.

Food for thought: Women are often the primary caregivers of young and old alike. When stretched to the limit, self-care – like eating well – often gets pushed aside. Adopting some basic good eating habits like getting enough iron can boost well-being, energy, and resilience.

Iron matters well before women even think of conceiving. 

Women need to think about iron pre-pregnancy; if their iron stores are low, it can be hard to play catch-up and meet additional iron demands during pregnancy. That’s because it can take several months to correct low iron stores.

What many women may not realize is that insufficient iron can contribute to low birth weight and premature birth, and it can interfere with a baby’s optimal growth – even brain health – during fetal development and long after birth. Eating iron-rich foods daily starting well before pregnancy is ideal. Health-care providers may also recommend a supplement.

Food for thought: Up to 18% of Canadian women (14–50 years of age) do not meet their iron needs. Given that female athletes may need up to 70% more iron than recommended, and iron needs are almost doubled for those who do not eat meat, it’s likely that the prevalence of low iron has been significantly underestimated.

About Carol Harrison

Carol Harrison is a registered dietitian who loves her daily workouts! She has a food nutrition communications company in Toronto. Follow Carol on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

The COVID-19 Food Advice Your Clients Are Craving

By | Nutrition

By Carol Harrison, RD

Plexiglass, masks, hand sanitizer… COVID-19 has changed how Canadians shop, cook, and eat. And, while panic buying has subsided, other challenges have persisted. Here are three ways to help your clients and participants eat healthier in pandemic times, including hot topics and helpful advice you can share.

Provide “basic” nutrition advice.

Hot topics: immune health, stress eating

Since the pandemic began, there’s been a lot of buzz about immune health. No, your clients can’t “boost” their immune system as in “kick it into overdrive,” but they can strengthen and support it. How? They can do this by eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and staying active – basic advice, yes, but many people struggle with the basics. That’s where you can help. Remind them that no single supplement, food or herb has quality evidence behind it to support claims of supercharging the immune system.

A close-second hot topic is stress eating. Many people eat to self-soothe, but this shouldn’t be our only way of dealing with stress. Encourage people to build stress busters (such as attending your class!) into their daily routine. Remind them to eat regularly and choose wholesome foods at each meal, including protein and fibre-rich choices for lasting energy. Limiting distractions while eating also helps to avoid mindlessly overeating. And, let people know that if they really want a cookie, they shouldn’t deprive themselves. Eat it and enjoy it – just don’t eat the whole batch!

Calm their fears about food.

Hot topics: organics, farming

The pandemic has heightened food safety concerns and underlined the link between nutrition and health. It’s important to remind people that organic and conventionally grown foods (veggies, fruits, etc.) are equally safe and nutritious, especially now that many Canadians are facing financial stress. In fact, if farmers didn’t have access to pesticides, veggies and fruits would cost about 50% more. We should focus on eating more produce, period. Veggies and fruits support a healthy immune system and Canadians do not eat enough.

This Pesticide Residue Calculator is a helpful way to illustrate the risk posed by pesticides. For example, a child could eat 340 servings of conventionally grown apples in one day without any negative effects from pesticide residue, even if the apples were to have the highest amount of residue the USDA has recorded for this fruit.

Another hot topic under this theme is farming. People increasingly want transparency in food production. For trusted advice on Canadian farming practices, check out Canadian Food Focus. Its “On the Farm” section answers common questions about agriculture, such as, “How do farmers plant their crops?” or “How are beef cattle raised?”

Share shopping and cooking advice.

Hot topics: buying Canadian food, cooking fatigue

The pandemic is a health crisis, but thanks to Canada’s farmers it did not become a food crisis. The sight of empty supermarket shelves reminded many of us how important it is to support our farmers so they can keep supplying us with healthy, affordable, high-quality food.

An easy way to support farmers is to buy what’s in season. After all, local is fresh, and fresh tastes best. For packaged foods, remind people to look for “Product of Canada” on the labels – that means at least 98% of the ingredients are home-grown.

Another hot topic is cooking fatigue. Some people are overwhelmed by cooking seven days a week, while others are bored of eating the same meals over and over. Give your class participants fresh ideas for wholesome meals, made with quality Canadian ingredients. Share smart strategies like “cook once, eat twice”; make-ahead meals; no-cook meals; five-ingredient recipes; and even breakfast-for-dinner ideas. For more tips and recipes, visit Canadian Food Focus.

About Carol Harrison

Carol Harrison is a registered dietitian who loves her daily workouts! She has a food nutrition communications company in Toronto. Follow Carol on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

Meat and Mental Health

By | Nutrition

By Carol Harrison, RD

As the pandemic raises awareness about mental health, many Canadians are asking how diet can help. Scientists have long pondered the connection between food and mood. New to the discussion is a ‘study of studies’ from a global report that reviewed 18 studies showing meat eaters have lower risks for depression and anxiety than non-meat eaters.

Here’s why this study caught my eye. Some key strengths of this report include:

  • large numbers (160,000 male and female participants);
  • wide age range (youth to elderly);
  • representation from different populations (Europe, Asia, North America, Oceania)

Most of the studies in this review showed that people who avoided eating meat had significantly higher rates or risk of depression, anxiety and/or self-harm behaviours. For example, one study found that non-meat eaters had rates of depression that were 15% higher and rates of anxiety that were 50% higher than in meat eaters. Another study found that 28% of non-meat eaters had symptoms of depression, compared to 16% of meat eaters.

Good to know: This review did not examine cause and effect. We can’t say that a meat-free diet causes poor mental health. Likewise, eating meat will not guarantee good mental health. For personalized advice about your diet and mental health, consult a registered dietitian.

While the research did not explore why they found that meat eaters tended to have better psychological well-being than non-meat eaters, we do know that 90% of Canadians eat meat and it may provide a sense of familiarity or comfort, especially during these stressful times.

A serving of meat the size of the palm of your hand provides a rich source of high-quality protein which helps us to feel full from one meal to the next. That, in turn, may help us stick with regular mealtime routines which are also important for mental well-being.

Finally, some of the nutrients found in meat may contribute to better mental health outcomes. For example, beef is a popular meat choice that contains choline and is one of the best sources of vitamin B12, both of which are important for good brain health.

Dietitian’s key takeaway:

Whether or not you eat meat, optimize your mental well-being through good nutrition; aim to improve your overall diet rather than zeroing in on one nutrient or food. Here’s how:

  • Cook with wholesome basics. On average, Canadian diets are too high in ultra-processed foods such as baked goods, hot dogs, pop and chips. Replace them with naturally nutrient-rich foods that support optimal mental wellbeing such as vegetables, fruit, fish and seafood, beef, pulses, eggs, nuts/seeds, hummus, and whole grains.
  • Aim to make half your plate veggies and fruit, one-quarter quality protein foods (fish, beef, beans, eggs, tofu, seeds, cheese, poultry, and lentils) and one-quarter whole grains (barley, oats, brown rice).
  • Choose a variety of proteins. Protein choices are not created equal. They each come with a unique package of nutrients that benefit health. Challenge yourself to include a couple of protein options in each meal for variety, but also for the benefits gained by eating foods in combinations (food synergy bonus):
    • Add lentils and pumpkin seeds to your next salad
    • Enjoy garlicky refried beans with your eggs
    • Add some ground beef to a bean burger to increase iron absorption by 150%.

Try this sweet-savoury steak and summer peach quinoa salad recipe, courtesy of thinkbeef.ca

You may also be interested in:

Quick and Easy Meal Ideas, Dietitians of Canada

Healthy Habits to Cope with Stress, Dietitians of Canada

Caring for your Mental Health during COVID-19, Mood Disorders Society of Canada

We can email you tips and tools to help you manage your mental health during COVID-19, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

COVID-19 Care (videos), National Eating Disorder Information Centre

About Carol Harrison

Carol Harrison is a registered dietitian who loves her daily workouts! She has a food nutrition communications company in Toronto. Follow Carol on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Facts, Not Fear

By | Nutrition

By Carol Harrison, RD

With worries about our health and the economy running high during this COVID-19 crisis, your clients do not need more concerns to add to their list. Knowing the facts about pesticides can help to ease their minds and help them focus on the health benefits of eating plenty of vegetables and fruit, such as supporting a healthy immune system.

Fact: More than 99% of Canadian fruits and vegetables test well below acceptable pesticide levels set by Health Canada.

Not only that, but these limits that Health Canada sets – even if we were to eat a certain fruit or vegetable every day for our entire lives – are between 100 to 1,000 times lower than what would cause any impact on our health.

When clients express concern about headlines related to pesticide residue, it might be helpful to let them know that scientific testing is so advanced, we can now detect minute amounts – the equivalent of a single drop in an Olympic-sized pool – but their mere presence isn’t a hazard. For example, an adult woman would have to eat 850 apples in one day before pesticide residues pose any safety concern.

Fact: “To date, there is no scientific evidence that there is a health risk from eating conventionally grown fruits and vegetables because of pesticide residues, or that organic foods are safer to eat than conventionally produced foods,” says Health Canada.

Before a pesticide is approved for either organic or conventional farming, it must pass a thorough risk assessment, involving over 200 studies, and comply with health and environmental standards. The tests consider many factors, including short- and long-term toxicity, carcinogenic potential, and risks to sensitive groups such as children and nursing moms. Pesticides are also reassessed at least every 15 years, to ensure they meet current standards.

Fact: Without the use of pesticides, our veggies and fruit would cost 50% more!

Pests and weeds are a nuisance for home gardeners, but on a farm they can devastate crops and that can affect food cost, quality, and availability. If farmers didn’t take advantage of what we’ve learned from agricultural science, families would pay $4,000 more per year for groceries – a burden many Canadians would find hard to shoulder. The judicious use of pesticides helps to keep healthy food affordable.

Recipes to share with clients:

Bell Peppers 4 Ways

Carrots 4 Ways

Spaghetti Squash 4 Ways

Broccoli 4 Ways

From Farm to Food

Find out more:

Pesticides in Canada, Government of Canada

What are Pesticides, CropLife Canada

Pesticide Residue Calculator, Safe Fruits and Veggies

Chemical Residues in Food, Government of Canada

Catch more Carol Harrison at the canfitpro 2020 Virtual Series!
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About Carol Harrison

Carol Harrison is a registered dietitian who loves her daily workouts! She has a food nutrition communications company in Toronto. Follow Carol on Twitter and Instagram.

Eating and Working from Home During COVID-19: How to Eat Mindfully

By | Nutrition

By Angela Wallace, MSc, RD and PTS

It seems like everywhere I look on social media there has been some discussion or meme about the ‘quarantine 15,’ which is essentially referring to gaining weight while practicing physical distancing. This new way of living creates a variety of challenges, including easy access to your fridge and pantry all day long while working from home. Although I don’t think we should be focusing on weight loss or restricting forms of comfort food during a global pandemic, I do believe there are ways to practice mindful eating to support your health (both physically and mentally) at this time.

Today I am sharing 4 ways to practice mindful eating while being quarantined.

Acknowledge your emotions and reflect on your type of hunger

Next time you head to your fridge or pantry, ask yourself what brings you there?  Is it physical hunger (empty rumbling stomach), heart hunger (related to anything you might be feeling), or brain hunger (also known as cravings)? Whatever hunger you are feeling acknowledge it and take a minute to decide if you want to eat or not. If you are feeling heart hunger, I encourage you to try doing something else instead. Perhaps take a step outside to get some fresh air, journal, read part of a book, meditate, do some stretches, Facetime or call a friend, anything that will bring some joy to your day and help elevate your mood.

It’s okay to allow food to bring you some comfort

We eat to not only nourish our bodies with nutrients but to also provide comfort, hence the term comfort food. I am not a big promoter of restricted eating, so I want you to allow yourself some comfort foods during this challenging time. Avoiding your comfort foods all together will likely lead to intensified cravings, and potentially overeating (we tend to eat other foods to try and satisfy that craving and often end up giving into the craving too). Instead try giving yourself permission to enjoy a small amount (yes portion control is key here) of your comfort food a few times each week.

How can you control the amount?

  • Simply giving yourself permission puts you in control of your craving and you will be less likely to overindulge.
  • Take a small amount or serving and then put the rest away, if you want more try doing something else instead (again cravings are not usually linked to physical hunger).
  • Don’t bring extra snacks into the house. Many of us have been over purchasing foods, especially snack foods (I know a grocery store purchaser and chips sales are way up)! Having extra snacks in the home doesn’t mean you will save them, in fact our environment will determine what we eat, so having more will likely translate to eating more too.

Plan your meals, set some type of meal routine for yourself and your family

When working from home our routines tend to be quite different, you might even have some little ones marching into your office on the regular. As we slowly adapt to our new normal and working from home, I highly recommend starting to plan your meals, as it will play a key role in supporting healthy eating.

Tips:

  • Have healthy pantry and fridge staples available to support healthy snacking like nuts and seeds, dried fruit, oats, fresh fruit, hummus, raw veggies, seedy crackers, etc.
  • Start with planning your dinner meals, this will help to reduce your day to day stress and mental load. It will also help you create a grocery list and not over purchase foods you don’t need. In fact making a grocery list, will reduce over purchasing and impulse buys (there is a ton of research to support that).
  • Take 10 minutes each week to sit down and plan your meals, they can be simple or something new, have fun with it and get your family involved.

Make time to enjoy your meals

Meals and food are about so much more than the nutrients they provide our bodies. Food represents community, connection, healing, growth, love, and culture. Take time to have fun in your kitchen, explore new things, and eating with loved ones.

Distracted eating is quite common (especially when working from home and you are trying to feed family members, work, be a teacher and feed yourself). Distracted eating is often associated with overeating and not feeling satisfied post meal. Try taking 5-10 minutes to sit and enjoy your meal alone or with loved ones and disconnect from your technology. Chew slowly, enjoy the flavour, colours and texture, if you are eating with little ones ask them about their experience with the food. Asking what it tastes like for them, how it feels in their mouth, and what their favourite colour on their plate is? Being present and enjoying each bite is a great way to practice mindful eating and promote healthy eating behaviours.

Feel free to join my online cookbook club and get new meal ideas and inspiration each week for you and your family.

canfitpro recognizes that how we approach, and consume, our food is an essential part of overall healthy. Being fully present, and not distracted, when eating is one of the key principles of canfitpro’s innovative Wheel of Integrated Nutrition.

Learn more in canfitpro’s Healthy Eating & Weight Loss (HWL) Coach program. 

The HWL program is now available fully ONLINE and facilitated by a PRO TRAINER virtually.

The classroom is brought to you!

Learn more about how you can add this coaching program into your fitness professional skill set or apply to yourself!

Use the code HEALTHYFOOD to save 50% on your registration!

Cheers to happy and healthy  mindful eating.

Stay safe and keep healthy.

About Angela Wallace, MSc, RD and PTS

Angela Wallace is a registered dietitian, personal training specialist with canfitpro, and family food expert. She has a masters degree in applied human nutrition, extensive training in motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural therapy for weight management.

Angela specializes in women and family health. She specifically works with weight management, gut health, and all things family nutrition (introducing solids to your little one, picky eating, fuelling your little athlete, simplifying family meals,etc.). She uses a ‘non dieting approach’ with her ultimate goals being to help women find a balanced lifestyle and healthy relationship with food that works for them and their families!

You can learn more about Angela on her website www.eatrightfeelright.ca or Instagram.

Busting Food Myths

By | Nutrition

By Carol Harrison, RD

  1. MYTH: Cooking meals at home just takes too much time.

With longer commute times than ever before, it seems like we have less and less time to cook. But, the truth is, that in the time it takes to have a pizza delivered, you can put together a great meal in your kitchen.

Here are some winning strategies you can share with your clients:

  • Post your five favourite quick meal ideas on the fridge (for example, a grilled cheese sandwich and soup). This will help when you’re at a loss for what to eat.
  • Once a month, cook a big batch of a meal you love (chili or curry) and freeze the extra portions. Simply reheat to enjoy “cook’s night off” once a week for the rest of the month.
  • Cook once, eat twice. Prepare extra dinner ingredients and use them the next day. For example, extra veggies can go into a frittata and extra fish can be used in tacos.

Good to know: Clients often ask their fitness professionals for meal plans, but different taste preferences, cooking skills, and budgets make it nearly impossible to create a one-size-fits-all plan. Instead, help your clients build their menu planning skills. Here’s a great tool to get started:

7 Steps for Quick and Easy Menu Planning

  1. MYTH: Organic food is more nutritious.

The choice to eat organic food is a personal one. In terms of nutrition and food safety, there is no compelling evidence that foods produced using organic farming methods are different than non-organic foods produced with conventional farming methods.

Reassure your clients that farmers follow best practices to manage problems with weeds, insects, and fungi in their crops. Sometimes this means using pesticides, which are tools designed to help farmers safely deter or manage pests. Whether they’re used in organic or conventional food production, all crop protection products are regulated by Health Canada, and solid scientific evidence proves they are safe for humans and the environment.

Good to know: A far more pressing priority is to help Canadians fill half their plates with veggies and fruits, regardless of how they’re grown. You can direct your clients to Half Your Plate for tips and recipes, and to Pesticide Facts for more information about pesticides.

  1. MYTH: Food is expensive in Canada.

Canadians pay some of the lowest food prices in the world. In fact, our food has never been as affordable, safe or nutritious as it is today. A major reason for this is that farmers use plant biotechnology and pesticides to grow food, without which we would pay an additional $4,000 per family for groceries each year. (For those living with food insecurity, the problem to fix is low income, not food costs.)

Good to know: The most expensive food is the food we waste – about 40% per household! To curb food waste, advise clients to start their grocery shopping at home. Plan meals with what’s on hand and then make a list to fill in the gaps. The main cause of food waste is buying too much, so buy only what you can use before it spoils.

  1. MYTH: It’s better to choose non-GMO foods.

Putting a non-GMO label on food is a marketing choice; it has nothing to do with the food’s safety or nutritional value. Genetically modified foods are safe. There is a global scientific consensus, with organizations including Health Canada, the World Health Organization, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, all agreeing there are zero health or safety concerns.

Good to know:  Thanks to plant science, we can keep importing papayas from Hawaii. The ringspot virus threatened to devastate the papaya crop until researchers studied the plant’s genes and determined how to modify them to make the plant resistant to the virus.

TIP: For a tropical fruit treat, try Papaya Mango Sorbet.

About Carol Harrison

Carol Harrison is a registered dietitian who loves her daily workouts! She has a food nutrition communications company in Toronto. Follow Carol on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Protein Peanut Butter Powder Cookies

By | Nutrition

Even if you decide to achieve your fitness goals and eat healthier, that doesn’t mean you have to completely give up indulging in a sweet treat every now and again. Sure, having a sugar-packed chocolate bar every day isn’t going to do you any favors if you’re trying to watch your diet, but cutting it out of your life completely can sometimes mean that you’re only going to end up craving it more.

Believe it or not, you can sometimes make little sweet treats quite a bit healthier by switching up the ingredients. While that doesn’t mean it’s going to be exactly the same as the original thing, you may find that you actually even prefer it. Little ingredient swaps actually can go a long way.

The main thing that catches people out when it comes to simple snacks is the amount of sugar that they contain. In some cases – brands will add extra sugar to their products just to try and make them taste better, but all it really does is make the product unhealthier. In this recipe, we’ve recreated peanut butter cookies without actually using processed peanut butter that contains artificial sweeteners and additives. Instead, we’ve revolved the recipe around making use of a natural peanut butter powder which only contains one ingredient! If you’re a fan of peanut butter snacks, but you’re watching your sugar intake at the same time, then this is the perfect recipe to try out!

Peanut butter powder has a lot of benefits and, while regular peanut butter can be good for getting in a quick dose of protein and fat, it can get in the way of your fitness goals if you consume too much of it. Peanut butter powder, however, contains fewer calories, provides energy, contains a much lower amount of fat and it’s much easier to mix into recipes or shakes.

For this recipe, we’ve decided to use Naked Nutrition’s Naked PB, which is an excellent substitute for processed peanut butter. Naked PB is made exclusively from peanuts that are grown on US farms and the peanuts are pressed to remove fat and oil. As well as having no artificial sweeteners or flavors, each batch is third-party tested for heavy metals. The only ingredient in Naked PB is peanuts – meaning that you’re getting completely pure peanut powder.

This recipe focuses on creating a new type of peanut butter cookies that are more health conscious but still pack a great flavor.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup non-fat yogurt, unflavored
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 scoops of Naked PB
  • 2 tbsps. of brown sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven and grease a baking tray in preparation.
  2. Then, add the Naked PB, sugar, yogurt, and egg white to a large bowl. Mix the ingredients all together until a batter-like paste forms.
  3. Fold the oats into the mixture to evenly combine the ingredients.
  4. Place small teaspoon sized balls onto the baking tray, and then use a fork to flatten them down.
  5. Allow them to bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350F.
  6. Take them out of the oven, allow them to cool down, and enjoy!

PB Cookie Protein Bites

By | Nutrition

When you’re in a rush and you don’t have all that much time to whip up a quick meal to have on-the-go, it’s crucial to have healthy snacks readily available. This is especially important if you’re trying to achieve any particular fitness goals, considering snacking between meals can majorly jeopardize your progress.

However, that still doesn’t mean that you should go hungry. If you ignore your hunger cues when you’re feeling peckish by not having a snack, then you might end up even hungrier and snacking on foods full of sugar. It’s important to listen to your body, but also to be aware of how you’re fuelling it. Some people find that, if they don’t prepare meals or snacks beforehand, then they end up grabbing the closest thing available – whether that be a chocolate bar or a packet of chips. Though, it’s also understandable that you want to enjoy what you’re eating, rather than having to choke it down just for the health benefits.

These PB Cookie Protein Bites are the perfect mixture of being both delicious and providing nutrition. As you only need a handful of ingredients to make these snack bites, they’re quick and easy to make, meaning you don’t have to worry about being in the kitchen for long. The key ingredient to these protein bites is, of course, the source of protein – which mainly comes from premium brown rice protein powder.

Rice protein powder is one of the different types of protein powder that is highly recommended when it comes to supplementing your protein intake as it’s been found to have similar benefits to whey. Usually, it’s not packed full of calories, but it is very high in protein per serving, as well as being vegan friendly. It’s also incredibly versatile, allowing you to use it in all different types of recipes to suit your own individual tastes.

For this recipe, we’ve chosen to use Naked Nutrition’s Naked Rice protein powder which is made exclusively from organic sprouted whole grain brown rice. To ensure the quality of the protein, Naked Rice is made using a hexane-free extraction process to ensure the protein powder has an excellent amino acid profile. Naked Rice is made from only one ingredient and doesn’t contain any harmful additives, artificial sweeteners or flavors. Each batch of the product is also third-party tested for both melamine and heavy metals!

With the aid of this rice protein powder, these protein bites are an excellent way to satisfy your hunger and get in your daily protein at the same time!

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup of peanut butter (ideally natural peanut butter)
  • 2 scoops of Naked Rice
  • ¼ cup of honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tbsps. of chocolate chips

Directions:

As these protein balls don’t require baking, they’re super simple to make.

  1. Grab a medium sized bowl and add in the scoops of rice protein powder. Then add in the peanut butter and the honey or maple syrup and mix until they are well combined. Throw in the chocolate chips and mix them in as well.
  2. Roll the relatively thick dough into small round balls – you’ll be able to make about 10 balls from one batch. That’s it! You can store the protein balls in the fridge for a few days – but it’s best to consume them within a couple of days.

Clients Feeling Zapped of Energy?

By | Nutrition

By Carol Harrison, RD

Iron is needed to carry oxygen to our cells.

Restrict the amount of oxygen to our cells, and it’s easy to see why going all out in a workout, (or even mustering up enough energy to get there in the first place), can be a challenge for your fitness participants and clients.

Good to know: Low energy and pale skin are classic signs of low iron. Other signs are less obvious: shortness of breath, irritability, headaches, susceptibility to infections – even brain “fog” and heart palpitations.

It’s not just elite “athletes” who are at risk for low iron.

Adolescent girls and adult women are at risk for low iron, especially those who workout regularly and intensely. The risk increases with:

  • poor eating habits
  • energy restricted diets
  • long distance running (foot-strike hemolysis)
  • vegetarian or vegan diets
  • heavy menstrual flow
  • frequent blood donation
  • poor iron absorption (i.e., celiac disease, cancer)

Good to know:  Vegetarians need to eat twice as much iron as non-vegetarians because the iron in plant foods is not absorbed as well by the body compared to animal foods. Athletes at greatest risk may need to be screened regularly for iron deficiency. Reversing iron deficiency can take three to six months, so prevention is key.

How much iron do we need?

Age Aim for (mg/d)*
Men 19 and older/ Women 50+ 8 mg/day
Women 19-50 18 mg/day

Good to know: Data from the 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey found the diets of 12-18% of Canadian women (14 – 50 years of age) were too low in iron. Given that female athletes may need up to 70% more iron than recommended, it’s likely that this percentage underestimates the prevalence of low iron amongst female athletes.

*Male and female athletes at greatest risk for low iron should aim for more than these amounts. A registered dietitian can provide individualized advice.

Not all food sources of iron are created equal.

Heme-iron from animal foods such beef, poultry, and seafood is 10 to 15 times more easily absorbed than non-heme iron found in plant foods such as extra-firm tofu, fortified pasta, Cream of Wheat, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and spinach.

For example, beef is one of the richest sources of iron, with a 100 g serving (deck of cards sized) providing 19% of our recommended daily intake for iron and it’s also heme iron, which is very well absorbed by the body.

Bottom line: Plant and animal sourced foods have different health benefits, so including a mix of both is ideal for general overall good health.

Food Sources of Iron

Animal food sources of iron (75 g, cooked) Amount of iron (mg)

 

Beef liver 4.9
Beef, various cuts 1.4-3.3
Lean ground beef 2.1
Tuna, light, canned in water 1.2
Chicken, various cuts 0.4- 2.0
Pork, various cuts 0.5-1.5
Turkey, various cuts 0.3-0.8
Lean ground chicken/turkey 0.7-0.8

 

Plant food sources of iron (cooked) Amount of non-heme iron (mg)
Cream of Wheat, instant, ¾ cup 3.0
Lentils, ½ cup 3.5
Firm/extra firm tofu, 150 g 2.4
Kidney beans, ½ cup 2.1
Edamame, ½ cup 1.9-2.4
Nuts, ¼ cup (cashews, almonds, pistachio nuts) 1.3-2.2
Dried apricots, ¼ cup 1.6
Hummus, ¼ cup 1.4
Enriched pasta, ½ cup 1.3
Raw spinach, 1 cup 0.9

Good to know: Adding some meat to meals can boost the amount of iron from plant sources by a whopping 150%. Adding vitamin C-rich foods to meals (tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and citrus) helps with iron absorption too. A bean and beef chili made with tomatoes makes for a tasty combination meal that optimizes iron uptake.

Take a food-first approach to getting enough iron.

Routine, unmonitored iron supplementation is not recommended. Iron supplements can be costly, as well as causing nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea.

Be wary of supplements claiming, “Excellent source of plant-based iron” – while this may be true, the amount of iron absorbed by the body may not be adequate to meet needs.

If supplements are needed, a health care provider can recommend the type, dose, and timing to meet needs while easing any discomfort.

About Carol Harrison

Carol Harrison is a registered dietitian who loves her daily workouts! She has a food nutrition communications company in Toronto. Follow Carol on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Essentials of Winter Nutrition With Dee Miller

By | Nutrition

PRO TRAINER Dee Miller discusses the importance of eating healthy in the winter, as well as the vitamins and nutrients you need. Plus, some great foods that you should try!

In this episode

2:00 -  Challenges with eating healthy in the winter

3:00 – The best foods to eat in the winter that you can get at any grocery store

5:00 – The importance of getting vitamin D

6:00 – Food sources of vitamin D

8:00 – Other vitamins you need to get in the winter

9:00 – A better way to purchase frozen fruits and vegetables

10:00 – How Personal Trainers can help their clients to eat healthy in the winter

Find out more about the Healthy Eating & Weight Loss coach course!

About Dee Miller

canfitpro PRO TRAINER Dee Miller is a sought-after speaker and educator regularly presenting at canfitpro conferences, as well as a being a continuing education provider for canfitpro. Dee has written two Healthy Eating Cookbooks, with her third coming out this summer. Connect with Dee through her website Edeefy.com, FB@Dee Miller and Instagram protrainerdee.