Aphrodisiac Foods to Help get You in the Mood

An aphrodisiac is a substance such as food, drink, drug or scent that induces or rumpled sheetsarouses feelings of sexual desire.  Aphrodisiacs can stimulate a lagging libido or set the mood of your mind and body to help you achieve greater sexual health and functioning.  Now the research out there on foods actual effects on sexual function and performance are scare, however research does show that the healthier you are overall the healthier your sex-life will be.  So I have included some healthy behaviors as well as some foods that could help your next tumble.

  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol will increase function and health.
  • Getting in at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week will also lead to increased testosterone. (testosterone also control’s females sex drive)

exercise1

Keeping your fluid in control and maintaining your dry weight will decrease swelling and shortness of breath.

Here are some foods that can help boost your mood:

  • Eggs – A great source of amino acids that help increase blood flow through blood vessels.
  • Peaches- The high vitamin C level has been shown to increase sperm peachescount and reduce clumping all while boosting immune function.  This is included in your renal vitamin; ask your doctor if you are not on a renal multivitamin.
  • CayenneChilePepperChile Peppers- The chemical that makes peppers spicy can also help with circulation, getting your blood pumping.  It also can stimulate nerve endings to aid in arousal.
  • Oysters- High in zinc, which can aid in testosterone production.
  • Salmon- Packed full of omega-3, this fish helps to maintain sex-hormone production.
  • Vanilla- Adding a little vanilla to your dishes can stimulate nerves, increasing sensation and pleasure.

vanilla-with-flower-700-web

Why Is My New Year’s Resolution Always The Same?

new-years-resolution-appleAt the end of December each year, I reflect back over the previous year looking at the highs and lows; the goals I set and didn’t accomplish along with the ones I did achieve.  Somehow my mind always wanders to my body or my body image and I reflect on the previous year’s goals.  The majority of the time they involve going to the gym and eating better and 90% of time I haven’t come close to meeting them.  And as inconceivable as it sounds I find myself making the exact same New Year’s resolution I wasn’t able to accomplish last year, again!

Does this sound familiar?  Many people find themselvesnew-years-resolutions-204044-530-569 stuck in this exact same loop, making the same New Year’s resolutions year after year.  In fact the top 10 New Years resolutions have to do with weight, the gym, and health. Do these sound familiar:  ‘I will work out at least three times a week, I will not eat any desserts, I will lose 10 pounds, I will get a six-pack, I won’t eat after 8pm, I will go to sleep by midnight, etc.’ Most of us enter the new year determined to achieve our goals of hitting the gym or watching what we eat, but why don’t the changes ever last through march?

Why? Because most New Year’s resolutions are emotionless and without any motivating or driving force behind them.

To change a behavior or a daily habit for a week or two is easy, however it is  incredibly difficult to sustain that change over a long period time or for the rest of your life if you don’t have a good reason to do it (and knowing youcalvin-and-hobbes should do it, isn’t a good enough reason for most of us).  Everyone knows they should exercise and eat better, but most of us don’t.  You go to the doctor and they tell you to watch the salt or to steer clear of fast food, but inevitably you go right back into those habits after the shock from the visit wears off.  So how do you make a New Year’s resolution that sticks? Make it personal and important.

So if you want to change your behavior or lifestyle here are some steps that can help you start 2013 off on the right track.

1.  Think of a New Year’s resolution and write it down. Example: I want to have better blood sugar control.

2.  Look at the resolution and ask yourself why it is important to you?  List your reasons.  Example: I want to live a long time and watch my son graduate high school, I don’t want to lose my toes or feet, I watched my mother die from the disease and I don’t want to go through the same thing.

3.  Now I want you to rate your reasons (1 being the most important, 10 being the least). Example: 1) My son’s graduation, 2) Don’t want my Moms end of life, 3) I want to keep my toes.

4.  Now that we have solid and important reasons to change our behavior and achieve our goal, I want you to think about how you can go about it, what will I have to change on a daily or weekly basis to make the goal work.  Write down ways you can meet your goals and be very detailed.  Example:  I will put out my finger sticks by the bedside table so I can test by blood sugar right when I wake up.  I will make an appointment with a dietitian to make a meal plan.  I will keep a log of my sugars every day.  I will switch from juice to diet soda.

5.  Excellent work, now we not only have a reason to make our change, but we have a detailed plan on how we are going to do it!  What is left?  How about some rewards?  Set-up some mini-mile stones and rewards (not food related) when you meet them.  This will help that motivation continue through the year until it becomes routine.  Example: I will take my family ice skating if my blood sugar stays below 200 for one month.  If I keep my blood sugar below 180 for three months I get to book my summer vacation. 

Remember you can make goals and revise goals throughout the year and use the same method to meet them.   So what are you waiting for?  Get started on your New Year’s resolution now and have the faith and belief that this time you are knocking it out of the ball park!

If-you-want-to-live-a-happy-life-tie-it-to-a-goal.-Not-to-people-or-things-Albert-Einstein

The Art of Snacking

I recently attended a panel discussion on snack trends in US women.   What I found interesting from the panel was the topic of people feeling embarrassed when they snack or the feeling that snacking is something to avoid.   Snacking is a component in the majority of people’s day, as it should be, especially if a person is looking to lose way.  Today I am spending moment to break down snacking and hopefully dissuade anyone from feeling guilty or uncomfortable when they have one.

What is a snack?  If you were to ask the person sitting next to you what they had for a snack you are likely to receive a milieu of different answers from having a cup of coffee to bag of chips to a piece of chicken.  I’m going to define a snack as a session of eating a small amount of food, 100-200calories.

Why to snack?  Everyone should eat every 3-4 hours.  This means that you may or may not need a snack or multiple snacks a day depending on the structure and length of your day.  Research shows that if you eat every 3-4 hours you are also less likely to over eat later in the day, you avoid having that ravenous feeling at dinner (especially important for anyone trying to lose weight).  We have all had the time when you get home from work starving, eat anything and everything in sight and still feel like you want food, despite your body being full.  Snacking is the #1 prevention of this problem.

When do I add a snack? If you were to have breakfast at 8, lunch around 12, and dinner at 4 and in bed by 8 you would not need a snack in your day.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone who lives on those times, except maybe my 95 year old grandmother.   Your day should start off with breakfast, and no a latte does not count.  If you can eat lunch 4 hours after that then you do not need a snack.  If you can’t then you want to add one in.  The majority of people need to add a snack in the afternoon.  We are working longer hours and the time between lunch and dinner can be 6-7 hours apart.  A snack is clearly indicated here: having lunch at noon, but not getting home till 7pm to have dinner.

How to set up your snack times?  Take out a sheet of paper and a pen, write down the time you wake up, when you generally have breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Look at the amount of time between the meals, if it is greater than 4 hours you need to add snack.  Presto-Bingo, you have your snack schedule set up!  If you are at work, set a pop-up reminder for your snack time, this way you don’t have to worry about remembering.

What does a snack look like?  Now that we have the time scheduled for a snack, what should the snack be?  For most people it should be between 100-200 calories. That’s right a snack is not a large meal, but a bump along the way to ensure your body has the energy to get through day before you can have a full well-rounded meal.

Examples:

  • ~100-200 nuts (not salted or honey roasted)
  • ~Yogurt and fruit
  • ~Piece of toast w/ peanut butter
  • ~Hummus and veggies or a piece of pita (red pepper slices, celery, carrots all delish to dip!)
  • ~Piece of fruit
  • ~Trisects/whole grain crackers
  • ~Chocolate milk (great for after a workout)
  • ~LARA bar, Pro Bar, or other snack bars (Best to choose ones that have only whole ingredients listed)

To be a successful snacker, planning is key.   You not only need to know when you are going to have your snacks, but what they will be composed of.  If you don’t bring one in, where are you going to get a healthy snack?  Plan on planning to forget to bring a snack with you.  Keep a box bars in your desk or yogurt in a fridge.  Know what stores are around and who has good options for you.  PLANNING is necessary!

As usual, if you have any questions or comments post away.  Share snacks that you find enjoyable!

Let’s Talk Protein

You would be surprised how many conversations I have overheard on a subway car, at the gym, or heck waiting in line at Starbucks on the amount of protein a person needs.  It seems that people feel that protein is this magical nutrient that can trim weight and turn you into a supermodel, cause you to bulk up like the hulk, or gosh I don’t know sprout wings!  In my experience with athletes, recreational exercisers, as well as the regular individual, everyone has extremely strong beliefs on how much protein they need.   Along with this belief it is often overlapped with the idea that you can only get protein from meat products and whey supplements.  Well reader, if you haven’t already guessed, I’m going to be discussing protein: role of protein, how much you need, and foods it is found in.

Let’s begin with some basic information on protein.  Protein is made up of amino acids: phenylalanine, tyrosine, lysine, etc.  We require amino acids to build tissue, have functioning organs, and in some cases we will use them for energy.  It has roles as enzymes, hormones and helps to maintain fluid and electrolytes balance.  Protein is NOT stored like fat or carbohydrate (glycogen), it is broken down and used or it is converted into energy, i.e. we use it or lose it.  So we want to make sure we are always getting an adequate supply every day, since we don’t have this extra back-up like the other macronutrients.  Thus protein is an essential part of a diet and should never be omitted.  Everyone seems to be able to agree with this point.  We must eat protein.  Confusion seems to generate not on the necessity or functionality, but on the amount of protein.

The RDA, Recommended Dietary Allowance (put out by the USDA), is the daily amount needed to meet the average need for an individual.  This magic number is 0.8grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 0.4grams per pound.  This includes recreational exercises, so if you work out 1 hour 4 times a week; you need the same amount of protein.  So if we take an average 150lb person, they would need 60grams of protein a day.  This could look like*:

1 cup milk (8grams), 1 egg (7 grams), 2oz cheese (14grams), 2oz turkey (14 grams), 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (7grams) 3/4cup of black beans (11grams)

Total: 61 grams

Now for some of you that may seem like a lot of protein for others it may seem like very little.  Generally Americans eat 3-4x the amount of protein they need every single day.  A quarter-pounder with cheese would provide a minimum of 35grams of protein.  So the majority of us exceed our protein needs.  So what does this mean… it means that we are putting in more amino acids then our body can use, leaving the remaining protein to be used for calories.

So if you are not an athlete, a daily exerciser, or have some other medical condition that increases your needs, 0.4grams per pound is all you need.  At the bottom of this post I have added list of different foods and the amount of protein in them.

This brings us to the sticky wicket- athletes, muscle growth and protein.  I have scoured the research and books on protein needs for various sports and the literature shows no evidence that athletes gain advantage from consuming more than 1.8g per kilogram body weight of protein.    To break it down a step further:

Endurance athletes such as long distance runners, soccer players, swimmers, etc. protein needs are met around 1.2-1.3grams per kilograms.

Strength athletes such as weight lifters, shot putters, and linebackers average more around 1.6-1.8grams of protein.  Showing that the sport you play, exercise level, and workout regiment does affect protein needs. I will give you an example*….

A 200lb professional weight lifter, would require: 145- 164grams of protein a day.

Breakfast: 2 cups milk (16 grams), 1 bowl cereal (6 grams), 2 slices of bread (6 grams), 4 tablespoons peanut butter (14 grams)

Lunch: 2 pieces of bread (6 grams), 4oz turkey (21 grams) , 2 oz cheese( 14 grams), 1 cup yogurt (8 grams)

Snack: ¼ cup hummus (3 grams)

Dinner:  5oz fish (35 grams), ½ cup lentils (7 grams), 1 cup milk (8 grams), 1 whole grain roll (4 grams)

Provides: 148grams

*(This is not a balanced meal, this is merely showing protein distributed throughout the day)

The idea is that if I eat more protein I will build more muscle, if this were true I could eat 10 steaks and wake up the next morning with biceps twice as large.  This is clearly not the case.  Research shows that eating between 20-30grams of protein dose appear to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth), however intake above this does not increase synthesis (no matter the exercise).   Protein is needed in muscle tissue repair and growth, but increasing the amount does not increase the rate or amount of growth.  Muscle mass and growth depends on your workout, physiology, and genetics.  The huge amounts of protein many body builders, weight lifters, etc. eat is not being used for muscle repair and growth, but is being used for energy.  They are most likely underrating carbohydrates and fat and the body is using everything it can to for its energy needs.

Protein shakes:  I’m not going to go into detail on protein shakes in this blog, but I would hope from reading this blog you find that you can meet your protein needs from real food rather than supplements!  (Always a good goal)

  • Each protein equivalent = 7 grams protein
    • 1 oz. meat/poultry/fish
    • ¼ cup tuna
    • 1 oz. cheese
    • ¼ cup cottage cheese
    • 1 egg or 2 whites
    • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
    • 4 oz. Tofu
  • Dairy sources of protein = 8 grams protein
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 cup yogurt
    • 1 ½ oz. hard cheese
    • 1 ½ cup frozen yogurt
    • ½  scoop whey protein powder
  • Miscellaneous
    • 1 piece of bread = 3 grams
    • ½ cup beans = 8 grams
    • 1 bowl cereal = 6 grams

Comments and questions are always welcome!

Hydrating for the Summer Exerciser

The summer has officially taken off, with temperatures climbing into the 100°F, which means it is time to slap on the sun screen, grab the running shoes, and hit the pavement.  As I walked home from work through Central Park yesterday, runner after runner whizzed past me, demonstrating that New Yorkers are out in full force to take advantage of the good weather.  Running is a great exercise, toning muscle, strengthening your heart, and burning calories and I love how much it is a part of the city.  However, with the change in temperatures it is important that those long distance runners equip themselves with the proper fluid and snacks to maximize their work and keep them healthy.

When our internal body temperature rises through exercise and high outside temperatures our body has to disperse the heat, to keep our body temperature in homeostasis.  The body has several methods to accomplish this conduction, convection, radiating and evaporation through sweating; sweating is the fastest and most efficiently way our body can release heat.   We all know we sweat more when it is hot, when we combine this with exercise a person can lose 2-3lbs of water in a 1 hour run.  Some men can lose 4lbs of water in a single workout!  The best way to find out how much fluid you need is to weight yourself without cloths (if possible) before workout and after your workout; the weight change is the amount of fluid you need to drink.  1 liter of water weighs 2 lbs.  This is why drinking water and replacing fluid is so important, with these great water losses it is easy to become dehydrated, which slows down the body and prevents physical gains from the exercise.

Now that we have tackled the water loss during a workout let’s look at a little closer.  Ever tasted your sweat or touched a mirror with a sweaty hand and leave a dirty hand print?  This is from the electrolytes that are lost when you sweat.  The major electrolyte lost is sodium along with a small amount of potassium and chloride.  Drinking water after an intense exercise or lung run will replenish your water loss, but will not help replenish your electrolyte stores.  In fact, if you drink too much water without any electrolytes you can get hyponatremia, low sodium in the blood, which can lead to confusion, convulsions, fatigue, muscle cramps, vomiting, hallucinations, and even coma.

A sports drink, G2 Gatorade, PowerAde, or mixing a GU with 2 cups of water provide you with the proper amount of electrolytes.  If you are going to be exercising for longer than an hour, you will want to drink one of the above mentioned drinks every 20-30minutes to replenish stores, prevent dehydration, and provide your body with energy.

For endurance performance, the optimal drink will supply fluid, fuel, and electrolytes.  Decades of research have demonstrated the benefits of carbohydrates for endurance performance.  The best drinks have 6-7% carbohydrate solutions (14-15 grams/8 ounces).  We need to balance carbohydrate intake with water to slow gastric emptying rate.  We oxidize more carbohydrate when they are provided from a variety of sources (glucose, sucrose, fructose, maltodextrins) rather than from a single source.  Example Gatorade uses sucrose and fructose, PowerAde and GU uses fructose and maltodextrin.

Sport Drink Comparison Table

Sports Drink per 8oz Carbohydrate (%) Carbohydrate (g) Calories Sodium
Gatorade

6

14

50

110

Propel

1

3

10

35

PowerAde

7

17

60

55

GU20

5

13

50

120

You often hear and read about sports drinks adding protein or amino acids, making them super drinks for the avid exerciser.  However while protein is extremely important in recovery, after you have finished a workout, current research shows no benefit of either protein or amino acid during  physical activity other than ultra-endurance events.

What you should look for in a sports drinks:

  1. Electrolytes:
    • Sodium: 100-180mg per 8 ounces (amount in 1 slice of bread)
    • Potassium: 30-70mg per 8 ounces
  2. Carbohydrates: provide every for longer workouts and helps with fluid absorption
    • 14-18g per 8 ounces (50-90 calories)
  3.  The addition of protein, vitamins and herbs are not recommended, there is no evidence of any benefit.


When to use a sports drink:

  1. Duration: Sport Drinks are generally recommended for workouts lasting longer than 1 hour.
  2. Intensity: Higher intensity workouts increase sweating and electrolyte losses.
  3. Environment: High temperatures and exercising in the sun increase fluid losses and the need for a sports drink.
    • Humidity: Above 70% humidity sweat does not evaporate sufficiently to cool the body. Fluid and electrolyte losses increase under these conditions.
  4. Altitude: Exercising at high altitude increases fluid needs.
  5. Sweat Rates: Sweat rates are highly variable, individuals who have higher sweat rates are in a greater need of sport drinks as they lose more fluid and electrolytes.

Post any comments or questions.