NUTRITION & RECIPES

For better health, try including these top ten superfoods in your diet. There are certain “superfoods” that stand out above all others for the enormous nutritional benefits they offer. These are the foods you should be adding to your grocery trolley each week for health benefits ranging from anti-ageing to anti-cancer.

Top Ten Superfoods

  1. Broccoli contains large amounts of a number of powerful antioxidants as well as significant fibre, vitamin C and beta carotene.
  2. Walnuts are the nuts richest in long-chain polyunsaturated fats. Just 30g a day helps optimise cell wall composition, reduce cholesterol levels and boost intake of the vital plant forms of omega-3 fats.
  3. Lean red meat is full of essential nutrients, including iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and protein. The average adult needs 100g of lean, red meat three to four times a week.
  4. Oysters are one of the richest dietary sources of zinc, with just one providing an adult with almost their entire daily requirement. Oysters are also a rich source of iodine.
  5. Oats have one of the lowest GIs of all grains and a single serve each day provides you with a substantial amount of soluble fibre, which helps reduce blood cholesterol levels.
  6. Atlantic salmon is one of the richest natural sources of omega-3 fats, the health benefits of which include reduced triglycerides and blood pressure. Aim for at least two serves every week.
  7. Red capsicum is a rich source of carotenoids, the group of antioxidants that help regulate inflammatory pathways in the body, which in turn help prevent heart disease, cancer and stroke.
  8. Soy and linseed bread is low GI and also contains large amounts of the plant source of omega-3 fat.
  9. Eggs are a good source of protein and contain up to 18 other nutrients, including vitamins B12 and D.
  10. Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries contain lots of antioxidants and are also exceptionally low in kilojoules.

What is it?

Proteins are the building blocks that grow and repair your body. Proteins are needed not only for muscle but also for hair, skin and internal organs. Some proteins travel around your body in the blood as hormones, enzymes and red blood cells. Protein is unique because it is the only food source of nitrogen, which is essential to all plant and animal life. Proteins are made up of chains of amino acids. For each protein, there are specific amino acids in a specific amount, and they are joined in a unique order. This is what makes a chicken different from cheese or a fingernail different from a strand of hair. There are 22 amino acids. Eight of these are called the essential amino acids because they cannot be made by the body and must be provided by the diet.

What does it do?

  • Antibodies, which are made of protein, help you resist disease and infection.
  • Each day, your body loses protein in the form of hair, skin and nails. You also use up protein in all the activities of running and maintaining your body.
  • If you eat protein daily, it is supplied to your body tissue to replenish any loss and repair any injury.
  • For growing infants, children and teens, protein, along with sufficient calories, is necessary for growth of the entire body.
  • Pregnant and breast-feeding women need adequate protein for the fetus, for supporting maternal tissue, and for the production of breast milk after delivery.
  • If you have a cut, undergo surgery, or have an injury or illness, you need protein to recover and to rebuild your body.

Where do you get it?

Protein foods are classified in two ways: complete and incomplete. Complete proteins, which come from animal sources such as chicken, fish, dairy and soybeans, contain all the essential amino acids that help build your muscle and body tissue. Incomplete proteins, found in plant foods, such as grains, seeds, nuts, beans and vegetables, provide a varying but limited array of amino acids. A greater variety and amount of incomplete proteins must be consumed to cover all the amino acids needed for protein building. We can compensate for the amino acid deficiencies in an incomplete protein by combining it with another protein, thus providing all the building blocks for protein creation. This is the concept of complementary proteins, in which proteins with opposite strengths and weaknesses complement each other

Frittata with potato, asparagus and pepper

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

Recipe Highlights Serves: 4

  • Good source of folate
  • Store covered in fridge (under 5°C)
  • Gluten free
  • Low salt
  • Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 2 potatoes, cut into large pieces
  • 1 red capsicum, cut into large pieces
  • 8 asparagus spears, cooked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese pepper, to taste

Cooking Method

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick frypan and cook potato and capsicum for about 15 minutes, uncovered, over a gentle heat, shaking pan to toss the potatoes until lightly golden and tender. Cool slightly.
  2. Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl.
  3. Add the potato, capsicum and asparagus with the parmesan and pepper.
  4. Heat other tablespoon of olive oil in frypan and pour in the egg and vegetable mixture.
  5. Cook over a moderate heat, pulling in the edges a little to allow the uncooked mixture to run underneath until partially set.
  6. Cover and continue cooking a further minute until completely set.
  7. Slice into wedges to serve either warm or at room temperature.

Beef, celery and sesame stir-fry

Preparation time: 7 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Recipe highlights Serves: 4

  • Good source of folate, iron
  • Suitable to microwave
  • Best served immediately
  • Dairy free
  • Egg free
  • Low salt

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons almond
  • 2 cups celery, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 500 g stir fry lean beef, sliced

Cooking Method

  1. Toast almonds in a dry frypan and set aside.
  2. Heat the oils in a frypan, fry garlic for 30 seconds.
  3. Add beef and stir-fry until browned.
  4. Add the water, soy sauce and celery.
  5. Toss until celery is hot.

 

Notes: To serve, sprinkle with almond and accompany with steamed rice

Chicken taco with avocado

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 0 minutes

Recipe highlights Serves: 4

  • Store covered in fridge (under 5°C)
  • High energy
  • Low salt

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado
  • 300 g skinless chicken, cooked and diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecan nuts
  • 4 taco shells
  • 2 tablespoons reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

 

Cooking Method

  1. Chop avocado and mix with chicken, chives and pecan nuts.
  2. Stir through the mayonnaise and chopped parsley.
  3. Fill taco shells with mixture and serve.

 

Notes: This recipe can also be prepared using burritos or flat bread

Serving sizes

The serving size relates to how much of a food should be eaten as a realistic portion. Ideally this information should be appropriate for the target market and based on dietary guideline recommendations. However it is worth checking to see if the number of servings per package has been manipulated to change the nutrition information per serve.

Energy

Energy requirements vary based on metabolic rate, activity, age height and weight. The percentage daily intake guide is based on an average adult diet of 8700KJ. You may require more or less energy than this; a good indication is whether you are maintaining the same weight. If your weight is increasing over time you have a positive energy balance and may need to exercise more or consume less energy. If you have a negative energy balance you may need more energy to sustain your level of activity.

Protein

It is recommended that 10 to 20 percent of your daily energy comes from protein. Daily intake of protein is 50g for a diet based on an 8700KJ. Males, the elderly and pregnant and lactating women have higher protein needs. Foods that are a good source of protein contain 10g or more per serve.

Fat

A daily diet should include 30 percent of your energy from fat or 70g for an 8700KJ diet. Foods low in total fat have less than 3g per 100g (less than 1.5g/100g for fluid). Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are both good choices for fat.

Saturated fat

Saturated fats are mainly found in animal based foods as well as palm and coconut oil. Of your total energy intake less than 10 percent should be from saturated fat or less than 24g per day for an 8700KJ diet. Foods that are low in saturated fat have less than 1.5g per 100g (less than 0.75g per 100g for fluid).

Carbohydrate

Most of your energy should come from carbohydrate (preferably wholegrain sources). For an 8700KJ diet around 310g per day or up to 60 percent of total energy intake.

Sugars

The maximum intake of sugar for an 8700KJ diet should be 90g per day. Low sugar foods contain less than 5g/100g.

Fibre

Fibre is sometimes included on a nutrition information panel. For an 8700KJ diet, fibre intake should be around 30g per day. Young children (under eight years) require less fibre as they have greater energy needs and fibre is related to feeling full. Foods high in fibre contain more than 4g per 100g or at least 3g per serve.

Sodium

Sodium is a component of salt. Many processed foods are high in sodium. Foods low in sodium contain less than 120mg per 100g. The maximum intake for an 8700KJ diet should be 2300mg per day.

 

All reference amounts are in accordance with Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s Food Standards Code and recommend dietary in takes from Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand.

You’ve just finished one of your best workouts. Do you know what—and when—you need to eat in order to maximize your results? We’ve got the answers right here.

WHAT’S THE POINT OF EATING AFTER EXERCISE?

It’s all about two things: recovery and storage. You need to recover  the losses you undertook during the exercise, and your body is simply better at storing that recovery fuel right after your workout. Sure, you can eat later—but the benefits won’t be as good.

Theexercise PROS explain it: “athletes need carbohydrate and fluid to replace glycogen and water losses during the exercise. The muscles store more glycogen immediately after exercise than they do later.” Simple, no?

We’ll talk about what to eat shortly, but generally you want to stick to carbs and protein. Why, exactly? Protein “provides the amino acids necessary to rebuild muscle tissue that is damaged during intense, prolonged exercise. It can also increase the absorption of water from the intestines and improve muscle hydration. The amino acids in protein can also stimulate the immune system, making you more resistant to colds and other infections.”

While you might find some advice that suggests carbs will serve you fine on their own, we noticed “one study found that athletes who refueled with carbohydrate and protein had 100 percent greater muscle glycogen stores than those who only ate carbohydrate. Insulin was also highest in those who consumed a carbohydrate and protein drink.” The magic ratio seems to be 4:1—for every four grams of carbs, you should have one gram of protein.

There was one more piece of advice that we found interesting. Apparently, eating post-workout is most important for those who workout nearly every day—and if you’re following a lot of the routines on the site right now, that’s you.

But if you’re the kind of person who only works out 2 -3 times per week, you need not worry as much about post-exercise foods because your body will have enough time between workouts to recover. Notice that if you’re a lighter exerciser you need not worry as much—but if you want to follow the advice anyway—do it!

THE RE-HYDRATION ESSENTIALS

There isn’t a ton of information on drinking water after exercise, and for good reason—it’s simplyobligatory. That’s always your #1 priority, especially if you’ve gone for a run and haven’t had access to any water during it.

If you want to get really scientific about it, about.com recommends weighing yourself pre- and post-workout, and using the difference to replace fluid losses. For example, drink 650ml of water for every 0.45kg lost.

WHEN TO EAT

Do we need to eat right away? You might say no, not exactly—you probably want to get some fluids into you, towel off, get changed, take a quick shower—whatever your normal post-workout routine is.

But according to the New York Times Well Blog, those first 15 minutes are crucial: “the enzymes that help the body resynthesize muscle glycogen are really most active in that first 15 minutes. The longer we wait to eat something, the longer it takes to recover.”

If you can’t get to some proper food within those first 15 minutes, make sure you get something in your stomach within an hour, maximum, post-workout. You won’t get much increased storage at all  if you wait longer than that.

WHAT TO EAT—WITH REAL SUGGESTIONS

Ah, and now the crucial question, where we move away from talk of abstract carbohydrates and protein, and into actual suggestions for the kind of things you should scarf down post-workout.

Sports drinks are better during  a workout, but juices are better afterwards, when our body needs those carbs.

One crucial notion is digestion: if our bodies aren’t used to processing food after a workout, it might be difficult to digest solid foods right away, especially after some long, serious endurance work. We suggest the “4:1 combo of carbohydrate and protein [but] a drink may be easier to digest and make it easier to get the right ratio.”

Why not try some some real food suggestions, such as lean meats or a protein shake? The most important nutritional strategy post workout, though, is fluid replacement. Drink water, juice, or carbohydrate rich sports drinks to replace what you sweat out.” All good advice, although be careful of sports drinks that function more as sugar-delivery systems than workout tools.

There’s a ton of marketing behind them, and 9 times out of 10, you’re better off drinking water and using that sports-drink money on a piece of real food (or, in this case, some real fruit juice). Make sure you don’t use your post-workout eating as a chance to load up on too much sugar, or things you might not eat if you hadn’t worked out. And avoid fats for the same reason you avoided them before you exercised: they’re too hard for your stomach to digest after all that work.

We also found a rock-solid recommendation from the Australian Government’s sports department. It’s definitely worth reading: “Many athletes fall into the trap of becoming reliant on sports food supplements, believing this to be the only and/or best way to meet their recovery goals.

This often results in athletes “doubling up” with their recovery, consuming a sports food supplement that meets certain recovery goals, e.g. liquid meal supplement, then following this up soon afterwards with a meal that would help them meet the same recovery goal, e.g. bowl of cereal with fresh fruit.

Unless constrained by poor availability or lack of time, athletes are best advised to favour real food/fluid options that allow them to meet recovery and other dietary goals simultaneously. This is especially important for athletes on a low energy budget.” Top advice.

THE FINAL BITS OF ADVICE

Eating after exercise takes some time to get used to. Remember that if you’re working out just 2-3 times a week, it’s not as fundamentally important to concentrate on your post-workout recovery. But if you’re working out nearly every day—it’s essential.

And don’t think of your post-workout food as a proper meal: the portion sizes should never get that big- just a fist-sized quantity. Low-fat chocolate milk works very well. The goal is not a post-exercise meal. It’s really a post-exercise appetizer to help the body recover as quickly as it can.” That’s a strange-but-perfect way to think about it: a post-exercise appetizer.

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