Ever feel like you have a million nutrition questions and don’t quite know where to start? Look no further! Below is what I'm calling a Dietitian Brain Dump. Read through this list to soak up a variety of some of my most random, handpicked nutrition facts! Some may answer your burning questions, some may be nutritional game-changers for you, and some may leave you with more questions than you started with (in which case, email me at email@example.com so I can give you answers).
- The ideal post-workout snack or meal should include somewhere around a 2:1 to 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Think oatmeal with milk, peanut butter toast, beef jerky and fruit, or a bagel and egg breakfast sandwich.
- Sodium is the main electrolyte lost in sweat. If you exercise regularly, omitting salt while cooking not only means you miss out on tons of flavor, but you also miss the opportunity to maintain your hydration status.
- You don’t need Intermittent Fasting to get the benefits of fasting. Note the name of our first meal of the day: Breakfast. The overnight fast that naturally occurs with sleep already carries an array of benefits. If you want to pursue this, consider a 12-hour fasting window overnight (e.g. finish dinner at 7pm and have breakfast at 7am). One of these benefits? A 12-hour overnight fast has been shown to help reduce and regulate blood sugar levels the following day.
- Vinegar with high-glycemic foods can lower the effect on blood sugars. But wait! Don’t ruin your favorite foods with straight vinegar. A side salad with a vinaigrette will taste much better alongside a carbohydrate-rich meal, like pasta, than any apple cider vinegar shot.
- 1g of fiber per 10g of carbs is a great benchmark for choosing starchy carb items or grains (pasta, bread, granola bars, etc.) to keep blood sugars and energy levels stable.
- Stay hydrated while working out – use the paper cone cups at Western’s hydration stations – 2 cups before, 2 cups during, and 2 cups after can ensure you are hydrated for the workout and rehydrated after (each full cone is about 4oz). Low on water intake for the day? Bump it up to 3 cones each.
- Bring back the eggs! Dietary cholesterol is shown to have minimal effect on your blood cholesterol. If you need to lower your cholesterol levels, consider increasing your fiber intake by adding more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Start small. Small but sustainable changes can result in huge improvements.
- One thing that will increase your LDL “bad” cholesterol? Alcohol. Consider limiting alcohol intake if you are trying to manage your cholesterol or have a family history of hyperlipidemia or cardiovascular disease.
- One thing that will increase your HDL “good” cholesterol? Exercise. Getting your heart rate up in the gym is a good way to keep your heart beating strong for more years to come!
- Many people have questions about supplements. Do I need to take protein to build muscle? Do I need a pre-workout supplement to have a good workout? Do I need a multivitamin to be healthy? Do I need a probiotic for my gut health? The answer is often no. Supplements are the nutritional “icing on the cake”. The focus should always be on food first. Very limited conditions will require a supplement where food won’t suffice, and you will likely be notified by a doctor or dietitian when you are facing one of these cases.
- Don’t underestimate the power of fats. The types of fats you eat can change inflammation levels at the level of gene expression. Whoa! Crazy, right? Incorporate more olive oil (sauté veggies in olive oil or drizzle over steamed vegetables to enhance flavor), fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout, and pollock all great examples), and nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios) and seeds (chia seeds, flax seeds) frequently to balance inflammation levels.
- Many people have questions about what foods are good or bad for them. I want to simplify a common one: If you ever wonder, “Is [insert any fruit or vegetable] bad for me?” The answer is always no. All fruits and vegetables have a place in your diet (barring any sensitivities or allergies, of course).
- Is going low carb the key to health and fitness? Nope. Undereating carbs will result in your body burning proteins (usually from your own muscle) for energy. If you exercise with any sort of regularity and avoid carbs, you’re spinning your wheels (and likely plateaued in your goals a long time ago).
- What about keto? Unless you have a severe seizure disorder that is medication/treatment-resistant, the risks/negative effects of the ketogenic diet do not outweigh the potential benefits. It’s not worth it.
- Is creatine a steroid? Nope. Is creatine a performance-enhancing drug? Nope. Is creatine one of the most studied and proven-effective sports supplements on the market (even more so than protein)? Yep. Are any supplements FDA-regulated? Nope. Even with good brands, use at your own risk.
- As an RD, here’s one of my favorite tips: Attempt to have at least one fruit or vegetable every time you eat, meals or snacks, and you might find your fruit and vegetable intake improves substantially. If not a significant change, you’ll still find that you’re consistently getting fiber and plenty of vitamins and minerals throughout the day.
- The most fitness nutrition faux-pas I see? Not eating enough. Consistently undereating will almost certainly stall your fitness goals – no matter what those goals are.
Have more questions? Contact me to set up a session where we can dispel any nutrition myths or clarify any nutrition confusion you may be contending with. While there are many nutrition “universal truths”, the best nutritional approach is one that is personalized to you and your lifestyle.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your dietitian consultation.