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Skip These 5 Foods If You’re Working Out Soon

We’ve all been there: You’re just gearing up to crush a workout, and then it strikes. “It” being the stomach cramping, the bathroom urgency, the wave of fatigue. If you’re exercising outside or in the middle of a fitness class, this gastrointestinal distress can be even more discouraging.

Although a sudden virus might be at play, it’s more likely that what you ate just before working out could be the culprit. “Exercise and digestion are mutually exclusive,” says Shawn Khodadadian, MD, of Manhattan Gastroenterology. “When you exercise, your body isn’t using its energy for digestion. It slows that process so it can divert as much blood as possible to your muscles and lungs.”

That means foods you digest just fine when not working out could cause you problems if you eat them pre-exercise. Certain foods can prompt heartburn, stomach ache or even vomiting, Khodadadian notes.

Here are some common food choices to avoid:

1. PROTEIN SHAKES & BARS

While protein is very helpful for post-workout recovery, it can be tough on your system if you have a shake right before working out. That’s because protein digests slowly, Khodadadian says. If you’re having a shake less than three hours before a workout, you could see some digestive blowback. The same goes for a high-protein bar.

The fix: If you regularly rely on a protein boost right before working out, and tend to feel not-so-great while exercising, try having the shake or bar after exercising instead.


READ MORE > IS CHOCOLATE MILK THE BEST RECOVERY DRINK?


2. MILK

Many runners love their chocolate milk fix, but they’re careful to drink the beverage after a big run or a race. That’s because milk has high amounts of protein and fat, which take time to digest.

The fix: If you’re looking for a dairy-type boost in your pre-workout mix, consider whey protein mixed with filtered water instead — but even then, consume the drink at least a few hours before your workout.

3. HIGH-FIBER CEREAL

Loading up on a carb-rich choice like cereal is tempting before exercising, especially if you’re pressed for time. But, like protein, fiber digests slowly, and your workout can interfere with that process, Khodadadian notes.

The fix: As an alternative, try a food you can digest easily that’s high in carbs but low in fiber, such as oatmeal. That way, you can get the fuel you need without the GI issues. Consider adding even more of a carb boost with bananas or mangoes.


READ MORE > SCIENCE INVESTIGATES: FASTING VS. CALORIE RESTRICTION?


4. SPICY FOOD

Even if you regularly amp up your spice levels, you may have issues if you eat too much before working out. The slower digestive processes that happen when you begin exercising could leave that delicious taco sitting in your stomach, and that can prompt indigestion or heartburn.

The fix: Skip the spice altogether and save the heat for a post-workout treat.

5. SALAD

Yes, you should load up on vegetables. But eating raw veggies can be tricky, says Terry Wahls, MD, author of “The Wahls Protocol.” Although raw vegetables have more fiber than cooked, they also have intact enzymes and their cell walls are still solid, which means it takes more energy for your body to digest them. If you’re just sitting in an afternoon meeting, that’s no big deal. But if you’re trying out your new HIIT workout, it can become a source of digestive problems.

The fix: Opt for easier-to-digest, lower-fiber cooked vegetables and save the salad for another time.

WHEN SHOULD YOU EAT?

Although some people swear by “fasted cardio” workouts, it’s usually more effective to eat something before exercising, according to Khodadadian. He says, “Not eating anything before a workout will leave you feeling tired and weak. Just give your body the proper time to digest before exercising, you may need two or three hours for digestion.”

Your blood sugar rises to help you digest, he adds. By waiting a few hours, those blood sugar levels will drop back to normal, giving you the energy you need to devote to your workout — without a stomach ache or heartburn along the way.

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Get Creative With These 5 Healthy Date Ideas

Quick, when was your last date?

If you’re like me, it may have coincided with the birth of Daenerys’ dragons

Whether it’s been awhile since your last date, or even if it hasn’t, summer is here and it’s the perfect time to reinvigorate your love life. Whether you are a man or woman, gay or straight, single or taken (or anything in between) we all need a little love in our lives for our general well-being.

Love can be felt from various personal relationships, but for the purpose of this article, I’m focusing on romantic love. While it can be easy to overlook, love is a huge part of mental and physical health, general well-being and happiness. One study, which examined more than 300,000 participants, found people who lack strong personal relationships increased their risk of premature death from all causes by 50%.

50%!

That’s an effect on mortality risk greater than obesity or physical inactivity and nearly as bad as smoking everyday. Wow.

Though I’m in the “single” category, I’m blessed to have extremely close relationships with friends and family (*wipes sweat from brow) … but in that quest to find my permanent partner in crime, I’m always down to try out a new date activity!

Earlier this summer, I had a dinner date. My date, we’ll call him M, picked me up and instead of going to a restaurant, he surprised me with a picnic near the Martin Luther King memorial — and because he gets what I’m about, he even made it fairly healthy. Swoon. So M had stopped at the grocery store, and picked up some grilled chicken, roasted veggies, blue corn chips with guacamole and a fruit salad for dessert, plus red wine. This was probably cheaper than a night out, but because it was thoughtful, and we spent time in nature on a gorgeous evening, it meant so much more.

Instead of the usual (and potentially unhealthy) go-tos like an indulgent dinner, cocktails, pub food or movie theater snacks, what better time to try a new date idea than the glorious beautiful summer months? If you need a little spark in your dating life, check out these thought starters for inspiration:

SHARE A PASSION

Whether it’s something from the list below or just something you are passionate about, it can be great to share that experience with someone. Plus it’s exciting to introduce your partner to your interests. I love food, so a trip to the farmers market can be a great way to get some steps in, support the local economy and gain exposure to new fruits and veggies. Plus, who doesn’t love a free sample?

TRY SOMETHING NEW

When I start dating someone, it’s almost guaranteed there’s going to be a workout class in the lineup by date number 5. It’s a bonding experience, plus he’ll get to see me at my least polished — sweaty, no makeup and gym hair. There’s nowhere to go but up from that very low baseline. Your partner can actually help keep you on track, too. Studies show married couples who work out together are more likely to adhere to a fitness routine.

I should probably mention that if you are just starting to get to know each other, and you choose a skill-based activity, you should do something neither of you have mastered. I’ve selfishly taken a date to my Corepower hot yoga class, with weights (I still have a little guilt thinking about the image of him slipping and sliding across his yoga mat). So whether it’s an indoor rock-climbing lesson, yoga or a spin class, try something that will allow both of you to learn and be vulnerable together.

GET OUT IN NATURE TOGETHER

In addition to the post-workout endorphins, I get pretty pumped when I work out or step out into nature for a hike. Embark on an adventure together: Exploring mama nature can be glorious (just don’t forget to bring sun protection). Plus, studies have shown that hiking can improve mood and give your brain a boost by increasing problem-solving and creativity by 50%. My inner voice literally sings when I’m hiking; I’ve also had some great conversations with my hiking partners out in nature … that’s my happy place.

You might try going for a bike ride together (always wear a helmet!), golfing or a walking in your neighborhood or favorite park. In addition to quality bonding time, simply adding walking to your routine can reap huge benefits. I should warn that if your date is wearing heels, check in and make sure they are game for a post-dinner walk.


READ MORE > 6 REASONS TO SPEND MORE TIME OUTSIDE


TAKE A COOKING CLASS

The saying goes “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” — and the same is true for women! Even if it’s not a super healthy menu, you’ll pick up some new skills in the kitchen. If a class isn’t in the cards (or terrifies you), make a meal kit from a delivery service together. There are tons of healthy meal delivery options, most of which include step-by-step instructions with pictures and everything you need.

TREAT YO-SELF!

Whether you’re coupled up or blissfully single, you can do all of the activities above with a friend or plan a self-care date with your darn self! Splurge for something special at the seafood or meat counter and make a new healthy dish, take a bath and use that nice towel (Am I the only one who saves the really plush towel for guests?), journal about what you are most grateful for and what you love about you. I grew up with a grateful journal (thanks, Mom!) and learned taking the time to reflect and appreciate my blessings was one of the healthiest things I could do for my health and sanity. Plus, research shows journaling for 15–20 minutes, 3–5 days a week can actually improve your physical and mental health. It truly puts things in perspective.

If you find yourself in a new relationship, these tips might help prevent you from gaining that dreaded “new relationship weight” with your partner. On the flip side, a new relationship can give you that confidence boost to make you want to eat healthy, exercise and just engage in healthier habits and who doesn’t want that?

Hopefully these tips give you a healthy boost to your existing and budding relationships. I’d love to hear your thoughts. How are you going to embrace a little romance this summer? Do you have any favorite healthy dates? I’d love any ideas and I think the community would appreciate them, too! If you do find yourself on a standard dinner-and-a-movie date, don’t despair! You can still eat out and find healthy options.


Better Than Ever

We all strive for wellness and to live better! Every month, this column will bring you advice on how to feel and perform Better Than Ever. Check out tips to improve various aspects of your health: Everything from fitness, nutrition, sleep and recovery. Have a topic you want to hear about? Feel free to reach out here (I’ll be checking the comments!) or on Twitter or Instagram. I look forward to hearing from you!


GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT HIKE

> Men’s Hiking Gear
> Men’s Hiking Boots
> Women’s Hiking Gear
> Women’s Hiking Boots


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These Are the Most Nutritious Ways to Cook Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a fungus that more of us should have among us, and there are many fabulous reasons to eat them. They’re flavorful, versatile, low in calories and fat and contain a good amount of dietary fiber and protein. They also provide essential amino acids, a significant amount of vitamins B1, B2, B12, C, D and E, and trace minerals like zinc and  selenium. Now that you know you should eat more mushrooms, just one question remains: What’s the best way to cook them?

Researchers in Spain researched the best way to cook fungi to retain as many of mushroom’s nutrients as possible. The results might surprise you.

Between boiling, microwaving, grilling and deep frying, the researchers found that two cooking methods grilling (yum!) and microwaving (huh?) were the most nutritious. Curiously, sauteeing, one of the most common ways to cook them, was not a part of the study.

HOW TO GRILL MUSHROOMS

Several options exist to grill mushrooms for the best flavor, texture and nutrition. Large portobello mushrooms, which are really just gargantuan brown crimini mushrooms, lend themselves easily to grilling because of their shape with the stem removed, they’re ready to be your burger.

  1. Wipe the dirt from both sides of the cap with a clean kitchen or paper towel — mushrooms aren’t usually washed in water like other vegetables because they absorb the liquid.
  2. Marinate the mushrooms in olive oil, salt and pepper, and add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice. You can also add other flavoring agents, such as soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, crushed garlic, fresh herbs or ginger as you like. Mushrooms absorb the flavors around them, so let them marinate for as little as 30 minutes to overnight.
  3. Cook them over a medium/medium-high flame, flipping often, until cooked all the way through, about 1520 minutes.

READ MORE > CHICKEN VEGGIE SKEWERS RECIPE


Note that smaller mushrooms, such as shiitake, cremini or trumpet, can be skewered for easier grill cooking. For ultimate convenience, stab several small holes into the bottom of a disposable aluminum pan and cook the mushrooms, stirring often, over the flame — it’s not grilling but it is cooking them on the grill.

HOW TO MICROWAVE MUSHROOMS

Microwaving mushrooms might not be the first cooking method that comes to mind, but it’s speedy and produces surprisingly delicious results.

  1. Wipe two cups of white button mushrooms clean, trim the tough tip of the stem and transfer the mushrooms to a large, microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Heat  on high for 90 seconds.
  3. Stir quickly; you’ll see a lot of steam and liquid in the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Return to the microwave, close the door and let rest for one minute after cooking.
  5. Drain the mushrooms, if you like. Add a sprinkle of salt, a quick grind of black pepper and a small pat of butter or olive oil.

These mushrooms can be eaten as-is as a side dish or chopped into a filling for omelets, quiche, tacos and more.


READ MORE > 25 POPULAR SUPERFOODS


No matter how you cook them, mushrooms are delicious,  but by grilling or microwaving, you’ll get the most nutritional bang for your buck.

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Make Your Next Vacation One of These Fitness Retreats

If your idea of a fun vacation is doing a kick-butt workout in the morning on the beach, spending the afternoon stand-up paddleboarding, taking a chill run with friends and then heading to cocktails and dinner — look no further than a fitness retreat. That’s right, yoga and hiking are no longer your only options for fit vacations. Today you can sign up for trips centered around mountain biking, HIIT, running and more.

“One of the most challenging parts of traveling is finding the right person to go with,” says Stacy Schwartz, founder of Ketanga Fitness Retreats. “I understand the desire to share your experiences with someone, but I also know that many of my friends wouldn’t want to take part in the active adventures and random activities that excite me.

“But on a fitness retreat, you’re with a community of like-minded people,” she says. “There is something to be said about sweating and getting an adrenaline rush with new friends, going out for a few drinks, but not getting too crazy because you know — and are excited about — tomorrow’s morning workout!”

While each retreat is unique, most typically have a morning workout and an afternoon workout. Between those sweat sessions, you enjoy other activities, such as ziplining, kayaking, rock climbing, wine tasting or just chilling on the beach. Then everyone gets together for dinner and maybe even drinks before heading to bed.

Travelers come from diverse backgrounds and might bring a friend, spouse or partner, or travel solo. By the end of the trip, many have established lasting friendships, Schwartz says, because everyone has a shared interest in fitness.

If you’re looking for a fit, fun vacation, check out these upcoming retreats to fulfill your every fitness desire.

FOR BOUTIQUE STUDIO WORKOUTS: KETANGA FITNESS RETREATS SUN, FUN & FITNESS
Where: Costa Rica
When: June 8–12, 2017

This trip offers a little bit of everything: Morning boot camp and afternoon Pilates and yoga mean you check off your strength training, core work, flexibility training and mind/body awareness work daily. There will also be a SUP excursion, a sunset cruise and drinks at the swim-up pool bars. Gail Barranda Rivas, your coach for the trip, is trained in everything from TRX and strength training to Pilates and dance, and she’s known for being attentive to form and also making sure everyone has fun.

FOR SURFING: SANSARA SURF AND YOGA RESORT
Where: Panama
When: Retreats are held year-round

Although they specialize in surf and yoga retreats, Sansara Resort welcomes trainers and fitness lovers of all backgrounds to its location year-round. Its signature surf and yoga retreat includes five surf lessons, twice daily yoga, optional SUP, kayaking and biking and a cooking class. Plus all meals are made from local, healthy food. Don’t worry — there’s plenty of opportunity to simply unplug, too.

FOR TRAIL RUNNERS: ACTIVE AT ALTITUDE
Where: Estes Park, Colorado
When: September 7–10, 2017

Boasting more than 300 days of sunshine, clean air and breathtaking views, Estes Park is a great vacation destination no matter what — but especially if you are interested in trail running. With Active at Altitude, your coach leads daily workshops on both the physical and the mental aspect of running. You’ll also do cross-training such as pool running, rock climbing, hiking and foam rolling. Every day also has built-in R&R time.

FOR CYCLING: THE CYCLING HOUSE
Where: Glacier, Montana
When: September 6–10, 2017

Photo Credit: The Cycling House

The Cycling House offers tours in the U.S., Tuscany and Mallorca, yet its most popular ride is its tour of Glacier National Park. You’ll cover 30–55 miles daily and reach peaks of 4,500 feet, and also have time each day to explore park trails on foot and check out the lakes and rivers. Your Instagram photos will make all your friends envious, plus you can boast about biking over the Continental Divide.

FOR OUTDOORS LOVERS: MOUNTAIN BEACH FITNESS RETREATS
Where: Verbier, Switzerland
When: 7-night retreats, June through September 2017

The main location in Verbier, Switzerland, offers outdoor training in altitudes of about 4,900 feet and hiking up to 8,200 feet. Your trip could include one-on-one personal training, yoga, spa treatments, paragliding, hiking and cooking classes. All activities are consciously designed to complement each other, so you’re never overtraining or undertraining any parts of your body. You’ll refuel with fresh, healthy, seasonal dishes. Mountain Beach also hosts retreats in Tuscany and Portugal.

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