Lil Miss Fitness Freak

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Happy Gut, Happy Training

Happy Fitness Friday Friends!

I thought I would keep trekkin along on the gut topic as more recently gut health has really been getting some hot attention. It would have been nice if the importance of gut health and taking proper care of your flora and and such was noticed earlier but that’s science and they are only really starting to crack the surface on this whole intricate system (which did you know actually has something very similar to an entire CNS for itself??!).

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So why am I talking about this for Fitness Friday you ask?

Well, as you’re probably aware, your gut is important for a number of things. Some of those things are extremely vital to your training…

~Digestion and absorption of the nutrients you get from your food

~Making short chain fatty acids that can also be used as a form of fuel

In taking a deeper look at the first one, obviously an efficient and EFFECTIVE digestion system not only helps you get the nutrients you need but that ultimately affects your mood to train and how intense you think you can go, your energy levels, your strength levels, recovery ability and overall just makes you feel good enough to have a beneficial and enjoyable lift. After all, who enjoys anything when their stomach is is just not right?

So with keeping this post low key and not too wordy, I thought I would share some tips for optimizing your digestive health and also some things that can help when your stomach decides to attack you.

These are going to be coming from my experiences and my coaches suggestions mostly. Some other things I may include are those that I have heard about but may not have much experience with SO they may or may not be effective. I still want to share them, however, because gut health and what makes people feel their best is so variable that some random things may work for some readers.  

So lets start with somethings that help optimize gut health and prevent issues.

Probiotics

Adding healthy, live cultures to your gut is a good thing. Many things inner environment today kill our flora. With less bacteria, you have less lil guys to break down your food and can cause poor digestion. Invite some new people into your lil biome to help yourself out. Ensure they are refrigerated! Ones on the shelf are no good. 

Glutamine.

I talked about this one in a previous post, so check it out here. I also talked about making your own gelatin gummies there too which are loads with glutamine naturally and are very cheap to make.

Bone Broth.

Going along with glutamine and probiotics, making your own broth is great for your gut and very satisfying during the winter months here in the great white north. Ensure to use free range and organic chicken or beef with the bones to get the live bacteria and the most omegas and glutamine.

Apple Cider Vinegar.

Another thing I already talked about here, but I will say that this is helpful for adding more acid to the gut to help with breakdown. It is especially helpful for those who have low stomach acid and often complain of indigestion. Lemon juice also has similar effects.

Fermented Food.

Kombucha, Sauerkraut, raw yogurts with the active cultures, etc are all great sources of probiotics and thus have the same benefits as taking a supplement, just in a much smaller amount. Take caution though, these may be a problem for some. For example, I love love love kombucha, but the carbonation that naturally occurs with the fermentation doesn’t go over well with my tummy unfortunately. Trial and error with these guys friends.

Watch your water consumption with meals.

Sounds weird, but makes sense when you put it all together. If you drink water during a meal, the liquid will dilute you enzymes and simply slow digestion. Consider holding off on the drinks until a lil bit after you have digested a bit. Some say 30 minutes, but I always say to go with your gut…I’m so punny…

Avoid gum or things that add excess gas in the stomach.

Gum. Beer. Carbonated drinks. Straws. ETC. All of these are going to put lots of gas and excess air into the gut and if you’re very sensitive, well you’re gunna get an upset tummy plus bloating. Also, chew slowly and don’t gulp in tons of air.

Say no to artificial sweeteners.

These tend to be HUGE gut irritants. Whether they give you diarrhea if consumed in large amounts or just straight up gas and distention, they do not make for a happy gut.

Sleep!

Sleep is super important for many things, but one clear cut trigger for my stomach is go hay-wire is if I don’t sleep enough. Poor sleeping, whether it’s chronic or even just a couple days, can really cause your digestion to slow right down and cause you discomfort so make sure you are getting your beauty rest.

…and a last and seemingly obvious one…

Avoid things that your tummy doesn’t agree with.

As mentioned, this seems obvious. If you get an upset stomach after eating something, don’t eat it. Surprisingly, I have heard of so many cases where people say they choose to suffer the consequences and just eat it. To each their own I guess but if you have a serious sensitivity like celiac, where further consumption continues to damage your intestinal track, you need to give you head a smack and just quit cold turkey.

What about when your tummy gets mad…

Low FODMAPs.

I would have said BRAT diet foods BUT I’m much more confident in this approach for a few reasons. One, apple sauce is out for me because I have experienced issues with apples, which are high FODMAP. Also, the bread is another issue. What if your issue is wheat? Overall, yes the FODMAP diet is more restricted but most often chronic digestive issues are from sensitivities that you are going to have to figure out and those often require elimination and then trial and error. By going full low FODMAP you are giving your system a break from all inflammatory and problematic foods and then can re-try them when it’s a bit happier.

Slippery Elm.

I personally have taken this, but not sure whether it made a difference at the time because I was trying so many things at that point, but I have heard good things from others about this one. You can get it in a supplement form, but they also have it as a tea.

Digestive Enzymes.

If you know you have issues with digestion OR for those who are thinking about starting a bulk, digestive enzymes can help support the breakdown of your food simply by adding more enzymes to the playing field. You can chose ones that contain one or more types of enzymes depending on your needs. Have an issue with dairy? Try lactase. Don’t know what your issue is? Try a multi-enzyme.

Pineapple.

Speaking of enzymes, pineapple actually naturally contains an enzyme of it’s own, Bromelain, which can also help digestion. Plus pineapple is awesome. Just be careful not to over do it or you will find yourself peeling the top layer of your mouth off…

Mint Tea.

I always do well with peppermint. Whether you have nausea or you need something warm and comforting when your stomach is being annoying, mint (specifically peppermint…yes there is a difference!) is always my go-to.

Take it easy on harder to digest foods.

Red meats, fats, raw vegetables, high fiber foods, etc are all much more difficult for your system to take care of. When it’s already upset, go for things that are absorbed more quickly and easily. Think low fiber carbohydrates (cream of rice, oats sit well for some, pumpkin, squash, white rice and potatoes), some fruits like bananas, lean meats and fish and easier digesting fats (but still keep these a bit lower) like coconut oil, which bypasses the liver and goes right into use as energy.

And finally be patient. When your stomach is upset, the best you can do is be nice to it and let it settle. Try not to stress about it and let it run its course. Ensure that if it’s a new problem that you take a look at your recent eats and activities and try to figure out the trigger so you can try to avoid it in the future. If it is due to chronic illness, I can relate and I’m sorry you have to put up with that crap but I can only hope that these can serve as a means of coping with it when it looses its mind.

Hope your tummy’s are happy tonight and enjoy the rest of your Friday friends!

-Chelsea

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Why I Eat What I Eat…WIAW

My friends,

So I haven’t done a WIAW in such a long time. To be honest, I didn’t want to be judged for my food choices. I often felt that people would believe that I was restricting because I tend to eat the same things every day and say that I don’t ever get cravings for ‘bad foods’

The notion of ‘bad’ foods was simply for a lack of a better term. Think of foods as more or less nutrient dense. There are no BAD foods. Well okay maybe some could be argued to fall into that category, but when looking at foods that are not made specifically to give you a heart attack, this is how food should be looked at. 

These are meant to show others what a healthy lifestyle means to a person and to perhaps give some ideas or find a new combo to try. It’s never about judgement.

I like my food, my food makes my body feel the best it can be (well when my stomach is content for the day) and it has been working for me and my current goals.

Disclaimer: Never think you need to eat the same way as anyone other than yourself. You have your own needs. My food is for my training and to help my current GI issues.

So onto the post. I’m going to preface this with an “I’m Sorry” for some failed meal snaps…my bad friends. I hope you enjoy the commentary as a make up.

Thanks to Laura, Arman and Jen for this fun lil linkup. Check out all of the other fun eats at Laura’s today.

wiaw-new

So for today’s commentary I wanted to give an overview as to WHY I eat some of the things that I do. Mostly, its for healing my gut and allowing for the easiest digestion, but I will share with you my reasonings below.

Please note that I’m on a low fiber and easy to digest diet post parasite treatment for a lil but because I have literally no bacteria in my gut following two rounds of antibiotics 

Pre-Breaky Supps

~shot of ACV diluted with water

Benefits: umpteen, but I take it mostly for the digestion aid and prebiotic factors

Breakfast. Loaded cream of rice

Why I eat it? Cuz I love it. Duh

Okay benefits of this for tummy.

~COR less fiber than my beloved oats so it digests nicer. And, carbs. Nuff said.

~Egg whites: need my protein yeah?

~Pineapple: Contains bromelain which is a natural digestive enzyme. Plus I like it.

~Pink Salt: I need added salt in my diet because I don’t get sodium from processed food and athletes need to ensure adequate electrolytes. Plus salt and peanut butter? Nommzzz

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Sorry 6am cream of rice ain’t too aesthetic so heres everything in my breakfast (forgot pink salt+cinnamon). 35g brown COR made with unsweetened cashew milk. 90g egg whites cooked in half way through. Add-ins are 30-35g banana/15-20gpineapple, 16g organic crunchy peanut butter + some peanuts, sprinkle of peanut flour, cinnamon and pink salt

Also with breakfast, I take a digestive enzyme pre-eating and than after is a small amount of spirulina mixed with vitamin C powder in a shot glass with some water. I also take Vitamins E, A, D and a probiotic. It seems like a lot but we are trying to heal right? Lots of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.

Pre-Workout

I used to have sweet potatoes with this meal, but experienced A LOT of bloating and gas (sorry TMI) so despite my resistance (I love sweet taters!), white jasmine rice took it’s place. Quick and fast to digest and gives me the carbs I need without the GI symptoms. Avocado is there for a bit of added fat (I can’t tolerate a huge amount of avocado, that has been discovered…its high FODMAP and rings in a decent amount of fiber) for some staying power through my 2 hour lifting sessions.

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135g white jasmine rice + 3.5 ounces roasted chicken breast + 1 ounce avocado. Seasoned with fresh cilantro and a **it ton of cumin + chili powder and liquid smoke

*Another digestive enzyme…cough these things cost me an arm. 

Intra-Workout

In my bottle for during my lift, I put in a scoop each of my BCAAs and glutamine. The BCAAs I began using to prevent my body from using my protein stores for energy as my workouts are very long and I was underweight. I still use them for this reason + it helps me to take in enough water. The glutamine is for both muscle recovery and also is gut fuel. Glutamine has been found to feed the GI tract and help with it’s recovery.

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Intraworkout BCAAs and Glutamine

Post-Workout

This is honestly something I look forward to every day. I don’t really have a sweet tooth but something about this is just so satisfying to me. All whole foods but makes me feel like I’m getting a treat. Its a ‘great job for killing your workout’ indulgence.

Reasonings:

~Rice again..in rice cake form. These are not your cardboard Quaker rice cakes. NO. These babies have double the carbs and therefore taste so much better. They actually taste like puffed rice. These are a carb staple in my diet.

~Coconut oil: Simply added to the ‘icing’ for added calories that I can’t see as added bulk.

~Whey: I have tried eating whole proteins and they just take too long to digest when my body is literally shaking. Whey is much faster and prevents me from getting sleepy. I only buy New Zealand whey as it’s lactose free, no antibiotics and the cows are grass-fed. The ingredients are just whey, enzymes and natural flavouring. Their flavours are amazing!  

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3.5 organic brown rice cakes (Lundberg–> much better tasting! higher carbs= no styrofoam taste) + Protein ‘icing’ of 1 tsp coconut oil, 25g whey (I used maple), 1 tsp crunchy peanut butter, 15g melted banana and enough water to form a paste. Topped with 35g nanner.

And you guess it…2 more enzymes. I take two because I think the whey makes me a bit bloaty if I don’t have the extra one. Before anyone asks, no I cannot eat vegan protein. I can’t digest quinoa or any sprouted grains other than rice. Plus it tastes like assssss..sorry but it’s true. 

Unpictured ‘bite’

My post workout is around 2-2:30pm, and I take my fish oil in between than and dinner but like to have something in my tummy with it as without anything it can lead to gas (hello fish burps) so I down a bit of chicken in the fridge.

1 tbsp of lemon juice before to help with fat digestion. 

Dinner.

Lobster is a special occasion when my Dad comes down. He so nicely brought some for me and of course I opened that baby the next day..

I have my vegetables for the day here…so sad. I have a small salad (unpictured) to start with all easy to digest/ low FODMAP veggies (cucumber, carrots, iceberg lettuce and some dark greens, not kale or anything). I love veggies but cannot have too much.

I have roasted mini potatoes and kabocha pictured here. To be honest, I hate potatoes, so bland to me compared to sweet taters even with seasoning, but I can’t have my sweets right now and I need carbs. Kabocha is a staple (cuz what person doesn’t adore it?), but should be limited due to being a high FODMAP and to be honest I think I have been over doing it a bit recently (anyone else find it bloats you?) because of aforementioned hatred for potatoes.

And no, I eat rice all damn day so I don’t want rice for my nice sit down meal of the day.. lol. Oh and yes, enzyme number 100000 for the day and a shot of ACV. 

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Lobster (thanks Dad) + roasted kabocha and baby potatoes. Unpictured salad to start with dressing of ACV+ lemon juice+ herbs+ mustard

Night Meal

Unpictured ~5 ounces of haddock attacked with turmeric because no one needs to see that…

Eaten in bed. It may seem weird to you to eat fish before bed and than pair it with rice cakes and nut butter. I like to think of it as the meal and dessert.

The fish is simply more protein (read below before you yell at me for eating too much protein…), the turmeric is for anti-inflammatory properties and the rice cakes are simply for more carbs.

The reason I have mostly peanut butter with a shmear of almond butter is because my coach really wanted me to try to rotate almond butter with peanut butter because peanuts have a risk of moulds and such I believe..

…but I just can’t (TEAM PB!). So there, I have some almond butter.

😀

Also yes there the nut butter is strategically placed. I like a big glob for the last bite okay. Common there has to be another person out there who saves the best for last no?

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2 Organic, unsalted brown rice cakes (Lundberg) + 20g organic crunchy peanut butter and 5g organic crunchy almond butter

Shot of lemon juice (cuz that’s a large amount of fat according to my body) + …enzyme. 

So yeah, can you tell that rice is a staple for an annoying stomach? It’s my major carb source in various forms because it sits well and gives me the carbs I need for my training. We are still being very, VERY modest with fat increases because my system doesn’t handle  those very well. I try to help this by taking a shot of lemon juice before a higher fat meal as acid helps to hydrolyze the fats a bit (i.e. help break them down). Also, yes my protein intake is high. It is what it is (for the moment..). It gives me calories and my system is okay at the amount it has right now. Can’t take any away if it cannot be replaced

Know what I’m saying?

So there is my day of eats. Very typical, as it’s pretty much the same every day with a few switch ups (fish type at dinner, choice of whey, etc) but I do that because 1. I like my food and I’m a creature of habit and 2. because it doesn’t turn my stomach into a raging….umm.monster.

Hope you enjoyed!

Anyone else out there okay with eating the same things every day?

Similar food restrictions?

-Chelsea


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Friday Fitness Questions #3

Hey Friends!

Okay so this week I wanted to share a lil fun thing with you all and not have it be so long and research-y if that is okay. Give your minds a bit of a break. I will give you a bit of information but I will keep it short because, instead, the main focus will be these guys…

So what are these cute, seedy teddy’s you ask?

These are Strawberry-Orange glutamine infused gummy bears. This particular recipe was from the North Coast Natural’s website, which produces fermented L-Glutamine powder, and I was quite excited to find it as this idea of turning my glutamine powder into gummies has been something I have wanted to do for a quite some time now.

So a bit on L-Glutamine

L-Glutamine is an amino acid (the most naturally abundant actually) that helps in the body’s ability to repair tissues. If you have heard of it, you have probably associated it’s usage with bodybuilders and athletes to help reduce muscle soreness but it’s benefits have been found to go beyond that. Check out the facts page on the North Coast Natural’s website (link) for all of it’s benefits, but to mention a few:

~It has been found to help heal the gut. For anyone with IBS or other inflammatory bowel diseases, glutamine can be used as an aid to help rebuild some of those damaged tissues and alleviate some symptoms of those gut disorders. Many studies (such as this one) have also shown that it maintains the integrity of the gut lining in post-operative patients, which may prove beneficial in their recovery process.

~Because glutamine is also a major fuel source for the cells of your immune system (lymphocytes, neutraphils, macrophages, etc), it has been shown to be beneficial for illness prevention. This may be especially helpful in athletes where the incidence of illness may increase due to greater stress on the body. (Link Link2).

~There is mixed evidence on whether soreness post-workout is alleviated in all athletes, but many articles support its usage in sparing protein for the rebuilding of tissues and possibly increasing lean muscle mass (see link).

So there’s just a few of the other great benefits of glutamine, but if you want to learn more just check out the first link I posted!

So do you need to supplement with it to gain it’s benefits?

Generally no. Perhaps supplementation would be required in those needing/wanting higher doses (post-illness/intense training for repair and/or gut problems) but for a general dose there are other natural forms of this amino acid.

Like Gelatine!

Vegans may be cringing right now, so if you are vegan you will have to find another source. Apparently red cabbage is the highest of the veggies, with fermentation helping to increase bioavailability. Overall, like all things it seems though, your best sources are animal based (link).

I digress…

So going way back to the gummies….

If you’re not using a supplement form of glutamine, like in the first recipe, then you can still make the gummies! Never fear! Try out this easy recipe for blueberry gummies.

As stated in the recipe, you can take out the maple syrup for a sugar-free version, as I’m sure the frozen fruit you add will be sweet enough and provide a good flavour.

I hope you found this post interesting and let me know if any of you have tried making something like this or working with gelatine.

So tell me…

Have you ever tried helping your gut with Glutamine?

All my athletes out there, do you find it helps with muscle soreness?

-Chelsea