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Foods to Eat/Foods to Avoid

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At LINK Endurance we coach holistic nutrition… This means that we advise a client on what they should eat AFTER we have considered their work-life, home-life, athlete-life, training-level, stress level, relationship with food, etc.

Hence: “LINK” Endurance – we believe strongly that a person is only as strong as their weakest link. We don’t ever want to give a plan to a client that might seem like an “ideal” plan but one that the client cannot realize due to a link in their chain being too weak to see it through. At this point, an “ideal” plan becomes a “bad” plan for this person. This isn’t a bad thing, by the way. We ALL have weak links… Yes, even Mo and I – though we know some of you might beg to differ. Come move in for a day. You’ll see that we’re humans too. 🙂

One of the links we come across most often that people need help with is the food they keep in their home. It is important to realize that if you don’t buy something, you can’t eat it and vice versa of course.

So I’ve put together a list of foods that we encourage clients to eat 80-90% of the time in any way, shape or form! These are the foods that you want to keep in your home… That you eat day in and day out, week after week.

On the flip side – there is a list we’ve put together that we encourage clients to eat only 10% of the time. These would be “Foods to Avoid.” These are the foods that we strongly encourage clients not to buy and bring into their homes. More often than not, if a food is available to you in your home, you will eat it eventually.

From what we’ve heard, most people we come into contact with think that Mo and I have some form of “superhero” cape on at all times and we never have temptations or, if we do, we don’t give in. Let me clear this up: this is FAR from the truth. We DO have certain foods that tempt us and we’ve both learned that when we make those foods part of our daily or weekly lives, we really don’t feel good for doing so. Namely, tortilla chips and salsa for Alix and Snickers bars for Mo. So, we don’t buy these things. We don’t keep these things in our home. But, we go out for Tex-Mex every now and then and enjoy ourselves! Or, one of Mo’s favorite treats is a Snickers the day before or after a race! But 90% of the time, we eat the foods listed in the “Foods to Eat” list below.

Let’s do a little math, shall we?

  • If you eat 3 Meals per Day + 1 Snack per Day, that = 28 times per week that you eat – give or take…
  • So, if we’re shooting for 80-90% of those meals to be made up entirely of “Foods to Eat” then that means that approx. 24-26 of those meals/snacks are within that list.
  • Conversely, 2-4 of those meals/snacks could be made up of “Foods to Avoid” in some capacity.

I hope this shifts your perspective a bit about your nutrition and how it doesn’t have to be a grind day in and day out. We’ve found that when we take the decision-making at every meal out of the equation, people eat much cleaner, much more often. But when you don’t really have a path to stick to and every meal creates a point of decision-making, it’s much easier to give into temptation. I like to call this behavior: “Pre-Made Decision Making.” If you stick to the list of “Foods to Eat” when you grocery shop, cook meals, eat out, etc. it takes a huge amount of the decision-making process out of the equation and allows you to use that brain energy for other good and you’ll also feel a hell of a lot better!

Side note: if you’re trying to lose weight, we encourage sticking to the “Foods to Eat” list 90-95% of the time (or 1-2 meals/snacks per week). If you’re trying to maintain weight, we suggest sticking to the “Foods to Eat” list 80-90% of the time (or 2-4 meals/snacks per week).

We really like to break it up this way (see below) – and this takes the guess work out of it for us and creates pre-made decision making week in and week out + consistency, which is KEY for a healthy lifestyle:

  • Monday – Thursday: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are “Foods to Eat”
  • Friday, Saturday and Sunday: Breakfast and Lunch are “Foods to Eat”
  • One Day of the Weekend (Friday, Saturday or Sunday): Dinner is “Foods to Eat”
  • Two Days of the Weekend (Friday, Saturday or Sunday): Dinner involves some form of “Foods to Avoid” – i.e. Sweet Potato Fries or Tortilla Chips or we might have dessert, etc.
  • But please note: when we choose to eat “Foods to Avoid” we eat them in moderation – meaning, we do not (or we try our best not to) over-eat – we keep portions under wraps and push back from the table satisfied vs overly full.

The list of Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid is below or you can click the link below to download the list and print for your daily use! Please note that the columns for each list are side by side – so the Foods to Avod

Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid

 

FOODS TO EAT

(i.e. you keep your kitchen stocked with these foods – 98% of your intake comes from these foods…):

  • Vegetables: 1-3 “handfuls” at every meal…
    • Any color, any kind – especially dark leafy greens…
    • Organic when possible*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Fats: 1-2 servings approx. the size of your thumb finger (“thumb-sized”) at every meal…
    • Unsweetened Coconut
    • Avocados
    • Nuts* (any kind except peanuts)
    • Seeds*
    • Olives
    • Hummus
    • Ground Chia Seeds
    • Ground Flax Seeds
    • Avocado Oil
    • Olive Oil
    • Coconut Oil
    • Grass Fed Better
    • Ghee (Clarified) Butter
    • Avocado Oil Cooking Spray
    • Coconut Oil Cooking Spray
  • High Quality Proteins: 1-2 “palm-sized’ portions at every meal…
    • Grass Fed/Finished Beef
    • Grass Fed/Finished Bison
    • Wild Caught Fish
    • Cage Free Eggs
    • Free Range Chicken
    • Pastured Pork/Bacon
    • “House Roasted” Deli Meats or Diestal/Applegate Organics brands only…
  • High Quality Carbohydrates: 1 “fistful” at 2 meals per day…
    • Potatoes (any kind, any color)
    • Fruit (no more than 1-2 pieces per day…)
    • Siete Almond/Coconut Flour Tortillas
    • Beans of any kind
    • Lentils
    • Jasmine or Basmati White Rice*
    • Wild Rice*
    • Quinoa*
    • Millet*
    • Teff*
    • Fruit (no more than 1-2 pieces per day…)
    • Ezekiel/Food for Life Sprouted Bread/Tortillas
  • High Quality Dairy: Milk/Yogurt – approx. 1 cup, 2-3x per week; Cheese – 1 “thumb-sized” serving at 1 meal per day…
    • Raw/Unpasteurized Cheese*
    • Low Pasteurized/Low Homogenized Milk
    • Organic and Grass Fed at the least…
    • 2% or Higher in Fat
    • Organic Goat or Feta Cheese
  • Alternative Flours and Sweeteners: use in moderation – no more than 1-2 tsp of the sweeteners per day…
    • Almond Flour
    • Coconut Flour
    • Cassava Flour
    • Tapioca Starch
    • Raw/Local Honey
    • Molasses
    • Coconut Sugar
    • Monk Fruit Sweetener
    • Stevia/Truvia
  • Alternative Milks:
    • Canned Coconut Milk (light or full fat)
    • Any Nut Milk in a carton that does NOT contain carrageenan or Vitamin D2
  • Condiments: use as needed – please note that the Avocado Oil Mayo and Dressings do also count as an “anti-inflammatory fat” – so 1-2 thumb-sized portions at each meal…
    • Red Duck brand BBQ Sauces (any flavor)
    • Annie’s brand Ketchup
    • Annie’s brand Mustards – any kind: Yellow, Dijon, Grain, etc.
    • Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil brand Mayo
    • Primal Kitchen brand Bottled Dressings
    • Homemade Dressing:
    • Mix of Olive Oil, Avocado Oil or Primal Kitchen Mayo + Vinegar (balsamic, apple cider, white wine, red wine, rice vinegar, etc.) + Sea Salt and Pepper + pinch of Cayenne Pepper + pinch of any dried herbs you like…
  • Notes:
    • Whether buying organic or non-organic vegetables, always wash well with a 1:1 ratio of apple cider vinegar and filtered water…
    • Try to find “sprouted” nuts and seeds as often as possible…
    • When cooking any type of grain (rice, quinoa, etc.) that has not been “sprouted” or “germinated” always rinse well before cooking – and if possible soak in water for 30 minutes, up to overnight and rinse well, prior to cooking…
    • When buying cheese/dairy, it will denote on the label if it is raw/unpasteurized…

 

FOODS TO AVOID

(i.e. you do not keep them in your house or have them more than 1x every 1-2 weeks…):

  • Refined Carbohydrates/Sugar:
    • Granulated Sugar
    • High Fructose Corn Syrup
    • Corn Syrup
    • White/Wheat Flour
    • Bread, Cookies, Cakes, Crackers, Snack Bars, etc. made with White/Wheat Flour
    • Boxed Cereals
    • Corn Chips*
    • Pasta*
  • Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils:
    • Canola Oil
    • Vegetable Oil
    • Soybean Oil
    • Safflower Oil
    • Margarine
    • Low Calorie Butter Sprays
  • Artificial Sweeteners:
    • Aspartame
    • Phenylalanine
    • Splenda (otherwise called Sucralose)
    • Equal
    • Sweet-n-Low
    • Nutrisweet
    • Diet Drinks
  • Poor Quality Animal Protein:
    • Grain/Corn Fed Beef
    • Farm Raised Fish
    • Caged Chicken
  • MSG: (monosodiumglutamate)
    • Seasonings
    • Marinades
    • Bottled Dressings
    • Chips
  • GMO’s: (genetically modified)
    • All foods containing corn, unless noted on the package: “Non-GMO Verified”
  • Alcohol and Mixers: (women, no more than 2 drinks per week… men, no more than 4 drinks per week, if trying to lose weight…)
    • Beer of any kind
    • Rum
    • Tonic
    • Juice of any kind, except fresh squeezed lemon or lime…
  • Notes:
    • Great/Foods to Eat Substitutes for Chips are the following brands:
      • The Raw Coconut
      • Siete
      • Jackson’s Honest
      • Beanitos
      • Way Better
      • Any chip that is made with coconut oil or avocado oil, non-gmo corn, sprouted grains or potatoes and salt are good in our book!
    • Our favorite substitute for pasta is Vegetable Noodles of any kind. Or, try to find a quinoa pasta or spinach-based pasta…

 

 

 

5 Must’s to Improve Your Recovery Time

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5 Must’s to Improve Your Recovery Time

Whether you’re a hard charging athlete, outdoor adventurer or a full time working parent, the last thing you want is to be sidelined from being too sore or injured from training, a race, an expedition or simply doing life.  When we train hard or race we create tiny micro tears in our muscle tissue. These tears produce a slight inflammatory response, which starts a process of healing and repair. This is how we grow bigger, stronger, faster, etc. However, too much intense training, or after a long/hard race our bodies are riddled with inflammation which require adequate recovery. Without proper recovery, the inflammation in our bodies begins to cause negative affects like excessive soreness, muscular weakness, tight/stiff muscles and joints, and more.  Inflammation left unattended will likely result in reduced performance and injury. What I have compiled for you below are my guidelines that I give to every athlete/client of mine to help reduce inflammation and speed recovery.  This protocol has helped my Ironman, Ultra-marathon, and Obstacle Course clients recover in record time.

Eat anti-inflammatory foods:

The foods you eat have a profound impact on your ability to recover from hard training sessions, adventures or races. Eating highly acidic foods, such as processed refined grains, poor quality grain-fed meats, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, and excess sugar (anything over 7g/serving) can actually increase inflammation and impede recovery time.  Instead of reaching for one or more of the aforementioned foods, choose foods that will reduce acidity in your body, reduce inflammation and speed recovery. My “go to” anti-inflammatory foods are:

  • Coconut Oil.  This super food has many health benefits, one being fighting inflammation.  Use it to sautĂ© vegetables, as a substitute for butter as a spread or you can even put it on your skin as a “lotion.”
  • Green Vegetables. I have a saying, “If it’s green and it grows from the ground it’s good for you.” Not only are green vegetables a great source of vitamins and nutrients, the nutrients in greens help mitigate inflammation and lower our body’s ph level (Read: makes us less acidic). SautĂ© them in a little coconut oil and you’ve got a double whammy of goodness to help you heal quickly.  The most nutrient dense greens are collards, kale, and spinach.  The darker the green, the more nutrient dense. If you are one that really doesn’t like to eat vegetables you can supplement with GreenVibrance and get the nutrients and anti-inflammatory benefits you need.
  • Wild Caught Fish and Grass-Fed/Finished Meats. The amino acids you get from eating meat is incomparable, in my opinion, and critical to rebuilding damaged muscles. Wild caught fish like salmon are very high in omega-3 fatty acids and therefore not only give you the protein you need to repair, but the omega’s to fight inflammation. Grass-fed meats, although a bit more acidic, have a much higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. Too many omega-6 fats are very inflammatory.  If eaten with greens sautĂ©ed in coconut oil, you see what I’m doing here 🙂  — you minimize the acidity and increase recovery benefits.

Breathe:

Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, has been used for many years to calm our bodies down from the sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system and engage our parasympathetic “calm relaxed” nervous system state.  Mindful relaxed breathing has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce stress/anxiety, and if done daily, before or after a stressful situation, with the proper mindset can actually aid in reducing inflammation and speeding recovery. If you can calm your breath and calm your mind, you will calm your body.

Move:

A common misconception, especially when we are really sore from a workout or race, is that we should rest and not move at all.  Allow our bodies to rest and recover, not unlike the old R.I.C.E. Rest Ice Compression Elevation protocol after an injury.  What if I told you that following those theories actually lengthens the recovery process and can create stiffness and tightness in your connective tissue and joints? Even after racing a full Ironman distance triathlon I, and my clients, will go through an easy recovery movement protocol the following day. The more you sit still the less circulation, blood flow, and therefore nutrients used to heal your tissue, get to sore muscles. Incorporating non-impact movements i.e. an easy swim, an easy spin on a bike, or MOGA for 15-20 minutes a day can greatly improve recovery time.

To begin incorporating MOGA into your recovery protocol – follow us on Instagram for weekly movement posts – @themogamovement

Cold contrast shower:

The benefits of cold therapy are well documented in aiding in reduction of inflammation, improving immune function, and hormonal balance to name a few.  For the purpose of this article, when combined with heat, hot/warm water, it can greatly improve your recovery time.  When you are in a cold shower your blood vessels & muscles constrict and blood is shunted to your core/vital organs, then when warm/hot water is introduced, your blood vessels open up and fresh blood & oxygen are re-introduced.  In the latter process you are delivering nutrients and oxygen to damaged tissue that help to reduce recovery time.  A typical protocol is to take a shower as normal.  At the end of your shower go through the following protocol 10 times: 20 seconds of cold water followed by 10 seconds of warm water.  Be sure to end on cold water.  This again, is something I prescribe to all of my athletes with great success.

Supplementation:

There seems to be a bazillion supplements on the market that tout recovery benefits, and there are some legitimate ones out there, but to avoid any confusion and to keep your bank account from busting by buying multiple products here are my top 3:

  1. Omega-3 fish oil in the form of  Krill Oil
  2. Bioastin 12mg
  3. Solgar Curcumin

These 3 supplements have been tested and proven to help reduce inflammation and aid significantly with recovery from hard training sessions, races, injury, and more.

There you have it – my five, must-do, go-to’s for faster recovery! I am certain there are other methods you can implement, and/or may have implemented in your own recovery plan that have worked. If so, keep doing it! If not, give my suggestions a try and let me know how it works for you.  If you have any questions or need help creating a custom recovery protocol for your needs please contact me at mo@linkendurance.com.  Until then, train hard & recover smart my friends.