Coffee…friend or foe?

I had my first coffee in over a week this morning – a delicious cup of organic espresso with coconut milk. It was yummy, but MAN! was my heart RACING after about a half hour! Crazy! I’d never noticed the effects of caffeine before. I put it to use during my workout, but not sure I actually like the feeling anymore…Anyone else give up coffee and glad you did – or could never IMAGINE life without it?

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Whole 30, Days 23-25 – Pre and Post Workout Nutrition

pre workout options of muffins or chicken and avocado, and post workout options of a protein shake or beef and yams

It’s been a few days since we’ve posted. No, we haven’t been stuck at the bottom of a pint of hagan daz. Truth is, thanks to bulk cooking and a handful of reliable high-yield dishes, our daily meals are down to a sweet science – which is good since both our schedules have kicked up into the decidedly hectic range. But now that we have B, L & D under control, what about pre and post workout nutrition? Well as it turns out, this is an area where the Whole 30 approach flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

In traditional body-building circles, pre-workout meals are mainly complex carb, often from grain or fruits, plus a little protein. Think cottage cheese and fruit, a whole grain muffin or oatmeal and egg whites.

Whole 30/primal pre-workout meals on the other hands are smaller snack size combinations of protein with a little fat. Think sardines in olive oil or chicken with avocado. Choose easy digesting foods and allow enough time so you’re not working out while you’re still digesting.

Post workout, old-schoolers will tell you to get an easily absorbed protein and a quick sugar into your body after training – and most do it via a protein and fruit or juice “recovery shake”. The idea being that quick absorbing simple sugars help shuttle protein into your muscles.

The “new school” approach agrees on protein, but differs when it comes to fruit and simple sugars. Instead, the Whole 30 Success Guide recommends eating a meal size portion of easily digesting protein and a fist size portion of a carb-dense vegetable like yams within 15 – 30 minutes of training. They say relying on fruit as your primary carb source post workout is a mistake because fructose is processed exclusively in the liver, which means the  “fuel tanks” in your liver get filled before the “fuel tanks” in your hungry muscles.

I’m going to be honest, as important as Dave and I both know pre and post workout nutrition is, we sometimes find it a challenge to get these meals in. For one, I find my paleo meals fill me up and I’m not hungry for another meal before my workout. Poor excuse, but there it is. Our workouts also falls within an hour or so of a regular meal, so that last meal essentially becomes our  “pre-workout” fare. On the other side of the coin, we also sometimes launch right into another regular meal post workout and miss the benefits of getting that extra nutrition to our hungry muscles right away. To be clear, your post w/o meal is a ‘bonus’ meal. You should still be eating your next regularly scheduled meal 60 to 90 minutes afterwards.

We know it’s a challenge to schedule these meals; we struggle sometimes too, but we still can’t emphasize enough how important it it to optimize your training. If you’re working out hard, and you should be, it just makes sense to get the most out of it.

What’s your strategy for pre and post workout fueling?

Whole 30, Day 14 – Water 2.0

Two hands holding a red and a black Santevia Alkaline Water Energy Flasks

Most people would agree that hydration is important, but we’ve recently discovered the next level of water consumption. No, we’re not talking about a fancy bottled drink with celebrity endorsement. No offense Jennifer, but we’re talking about something much Smarter…taking your own water – even tap water if you want, and changing it into something that not only absorbs better but also alters your body’s pH to a more healthful state and supplies much needed minerals. It’s the Santevia Alkaline Water Energy Flask and it’s one of your new favorite things.

Not only do these stainless steel flasks look good – I especially love how the design on the lids look like the bezzle of an expensive watch, but inside there are two mineral baskets filled with some pretty special stuff:

  • Tourmaline stones to raise the pH to 8.5+
  • Maifan stones to re-mineralize the water by adding iron, zinc, calcium and other beneficial minerals
  • Far infrared stones to energize the water
  • Chlorine reduction balls to reduce chlorine concentration
  • Negative potential balls to reduce the ORP value, which means more oxygen

Now I’m not going to go and copy a bunch of stuff off the internet about the benefits of drinking alkaline mineralized water. You can do a quick google search and find 1.38 million results. You can even find some skeptics that don’t really think it matters. But here, in a nutshell, is our take.

The most healthful state for human blood and most cells is slightly alkaline – about 7.3 (okay, I DID google that one…). But much of what we eat, including all meat, dairy, grains, sugar, alcohol and coffee create an acidic internal environment. Dairy might surprise some people because we’re often (wrongly) told to drink milk for heartburn. Other things that contribute to acidity include stress, pollution and environmental toxins, physical exercise and even some normal metabolic functions. So what’s the problem? The problem is when our bodies become acidic, our cells get less oxygen, cellular function is compromised, and pretty much every diseases, disorder and parasite thrives in the acidic, anaerobic environment that’s created.

But our body is pretty clever and figures out ways to keep our blood pH stable. Good news, right? Not so fast, because it does so at the expense of other systems by “pulling” alkalinizing minerals from our bones and other tissues. Talk about a raw deal.

So to us it makes sense to create as alkaline an internal environment as possible. Eating vegetables are GREAT for this – as if you needed another reason to eat your greens, but drinking alkaline water helps too. The only drawback we can see to the Santevia Flasks are they’re relatively small at 380ml (about 12 oz for our American friends). Since we aim to drink 2-3 l (~4-6 pints) per day, we pack around our 1.5l Kleen Kanteen and our Santevia flask. When the flask is empty, we top up and *presto* alkaline, remineralized water within 5 minutes!

Good to the last drop! 🙂

Whole 30, Day 12 Everybody’s (and every body’s) Different

man sprinting on one side, woman asleep at computer on the other side

Guess which one I'm feeling today?

Whole 30, day 11. I was scrolling through the Whole30 facebook page reading posts by people at various stages of this challenge and was amazed (and at times, slightly jealous) of the variety of experiences people are having. There are people feeling “fantastic” after just a few days, boasting of high energy levels and good moods. There are people “Woot”- ing and going on about their clear skin and loose jeans. Hmph. If I had the energy, I’d almost want to hate ’em.

Of course I’m kidding. But I am surprised at how friggin’ drained I am, pretty much all day. Dave’s energy level is pretty stable, but mine is in the toilet. Of course, the facebook page is also full of posts by people feeling equally as lousy, struggling with fatigue and headaches, cravings and bloating…we really are all unique. I thought because our diets were pretty stellar before this great adventure, the transition would be fairly seemless. But I have to remind myself that the body is adjusting, the gut is healing, the metabolism is shifting and these things take time – and energy to process.

The posts I’m most impressed with are those about increased awareness, something we’re really noticing too. My draining day ended with car trouble and having to be rescued by my night in a shining pathfinder. And my first inclination as I stepped through the door was “Could I ever use a glass of wine right!” The correlation between emotions and eating is so obvious now. Dave craves crunch during movies out of habit and boredom, or cookies or apple pie because it would taste “fun”. You gotta ask yourself, what are you really feeding – the body or some other need? If I’m really honest, I’ve often fed my boredom, stress and a need for nurturing with “treats” that never really do the trick.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never be one to eat only for survival. I enjoy cooking and love eating way too much to ever consider it merely a means to and end. But the deeper we get into this Whole 30 challenge, the more I suspect we’ll come out of it with a new clarity about our food choices and a new take on what true “nourishment” really is.

Time to hit the sheets. Nighty night all!