I’m doing a post today on carbs, yup, I said it carbs! But more specifically grains/starches. Those who know me know that I am a “pro-carb” Dietitian. I really do believe that we need them in our diet but the main concern is that we tend to eat A LOT of them, so portion is key. How much is one portion you ask? A rough guideline (without going too crazy counting ...grams of carbohydrates) is about ½ cup of cooked pasta, rice, couscous, another whole grain, potato or sweet potato. 1 slice bread or 4-6 crackers would also be considered one portion.
Now why do we need them? They can provide much needed dietary fibre, as well as one of the main sources of energy for the body as well as the preferred energy source for our brain, B vitamins including folate. If you were to choose whole grains then you’d also be getting some vitamin E, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Talk about a power punch! And to top it off, some grains can provide a good source of protein to boot! But remember, portion is key. And as humans, we have a tendency to be poor eye-ballers when it comes to measuring foods if we don’t use the measuring cups. When I show clients how much one ½ cup really is, they generally are surprised and realize that they are overdoing the grains/starches at meals.
So my suggestion would be to ensure that you have a more nutritionally balanced plate of food, to maybe measure your cooked grains once maybe twice while making your plate so you really know how much you are serving yourself and make adjustments as needed. As there may be some days where you feel you need more and some days when you may need to eat less. I like to have some at 2 of my 3 meals; typically oats for breakfast and either a grain/starch at either lunch or supper.
What’s your favourite grain/starch?
Lately, this seems to be a common theme that arises within some of my sessions with clients. And what I’m noticing is that people don’t seem to be replacing electrolytes as often as they should during/after a workout.
Ok, so what are electrolytes? They are minerals that have many different functions in the body. Some include ...maintaining water balance, helping your muscles contract and relax and some even help with transmitting nerve impulses. So they do some pretty important stuff! The most common electrolytes are sodium, potassium and chloride, but others include calcium and magnesium.
Why would I need to replace them? You may need to take them in if you’ve sweated a lot because of a sport/exercise or been in extreme hot temperatures, have certain medications that would cause them to leech from your body, have kidney problems…just to name a few reasons. The main reason I have to recommend them to people is because they are being active and sweating for a long period of time.
How would you know if you need to replace them? Muscle cramping is believed to be associated with dehydration, electrolyte deficits and muscle fatigue. If when you are done working out/training and you are left with caked salt on your skin that would definitely be a sign that you need to replace your electrolytes. Another is if you produce a considerable amount of sweat during your workout/training.
When should you replace them? When you are exercising hard for more than 1 hour, or you have a less intense but long workout you would benefit from an electrolyte replacement along with some carbohydrate to help give you a boost of energy.
What should you have? The ideal fluid during an exercise/training should have some sodium to help stimulate your thirst, a little potassium to replace what you lost in your sweat and a little sugar (carbohydrate) to give you a boost of energy. You can choose them from a premade sports drink, electrolyte replacement drink or even just from foods naturally. But if you have a diet that’s already quite high in salt then you should be ok with just ensuring that your post workout meal has some added salt, but if generally shy away from salt then you would benefit from some replacement.
If you’d rather make your sport drink, as you may not like the taste of the brands out there, here’s a recipe for you! (taken from Nancy Clark's Sport Nutrition Guidebook)
Yield 1 L
¼ cup (50g) Sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup (60 ml) hot water
¼ cup (60 ml) orange juice (not concentrate) plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 ½ cups (840 ml) cold water
Dissolve the salt and sugar into the hot water. Add the juice and remaining water; chill then enjoy!
Per 250 ml: 50 calories, 12 g carbohydrate and 110 mg sodium
What do you like to use for electrolyte replacements??
(Note: I do not endorse or sell the products in the photograph)
I work as a Dietitian and definitely walk the talk. I love to cook and help people get back to being healthy again.