Absolutely Critical For Your Health

Do you wish you could lose a few pounds?

Do you wish you had more energy?

Do you have some kind of physical ailment you wish went away?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, I strongly recommend you look at the some of the work done by F. Batmanghelidj, M.D, author of the book ‘You’re Not Sick, Yo’re Thirsty!  Water for Health, for Healing, for Life’.

Those of you who read our emails know how big we are on drinking water.  But in this groundbreaking book, Batmanghelidj digs much deeper in to how chronic dehydration causes many of the health-related problems we suffer from in our society.

There are many, many more examples of the powerful effect chronic dehydration has on our long-term health. What follows is simply a brief summary of some of them.

Water Helps You Stay Leaner

The signal your body sends to tell you you’re hungry and the one that tells you you’re thirsty are indistinguishable (he argues dry mouth is a terrible way to determine thirst).

Since food is usually far tastier than water, and these days is plentiful, we gravitate toward food when often times we really needed to hydrate.

Drinking a glass or two of water 30 minutes before each meal would go a long way towards controlling your eating.  This is a key component for those taking part in our 8 Week Fall Transformation Challenge.

Water Helps Minimize Effects Of Asthma And Allergies

The author goes into great detail about histamines and how they are regulated by the body’s hydration level.  But long story short, staying fully hydrated on a regular basis could play a major role in lowering or even eliminating the discomfort of allergies, and the potential dangers of asthma attacks.

Further, asthma attacks in childhood have been shown to lead to other health problems later in life.  

The author states that he now focuses most on curing asthma through proper hydration as the main focus of his current work.  He has found that sodium intake is also closely linked to helping cure asthma.

Water Improves Energy Levels and Mood

Those who don’t drink enough water typically gravitate to other energy drinks to stay alert.  This gives a short term rush but leaves you less energetic in the long run.

 Plus, water plays a key role in regulating neutotransmitters like tryptophan, serotonin, and melatonin.  Not being fully hydrated slows down the transport of these to the brain, making you more irritable than you would be otherwise.

Dehydration Leads To A Wide Range Of Short-Term Illnesses

All of the following conditions are linked to being dehydrated:

  • Heartburn
  • Regular Illnesses (flu, colds, etc)
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Nose Bleeds
  • Arthritis
  • Colitis
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Dry and Burning Eyes


Chronic Dehydration Can Lead To A Number Of Long-Term Health Issues
As if this wasn’t enough reason to drink  more water yet, here are all the long-term issues the author’s 30 years of research has led him to conclude are linked to chronic dehydration:
  • Diabetes
  • Strokes
  • Kidney Stones
  • Chronic Lower Back Pain
  • Osteoporosis
  • Coronoary Heart Disease
  • Cancer
Yeah, that’s a bit of a depresssing summary.

But the positive is that the best preventative ‘medicine’ to it all is free, and readily available to all of us almost anywhere we go.

For all the fuss about Mediterrenean Diets, and organic foods, and all the other touted remedies for living healthier, could the best solution really be as simple as keeping your water and sodium intakes to levels that provide optimum cell functioning?

Sometimes the best solution to a problem is the simplest.

Dr. Batmanghelidj has a website that provides far more information on this topic, I suggest you check it out to reach your own conclusion.

Hopefully there is something there that can improve your life, or the life of someone you know.

You can find it at www.watercure.com


Do Sports Kids Have A Protein Problem?

The average young athlete these days is working very hard to achieve their goals, but they’re doing it on a less than optimal nutrition plan.

And more often than not, at the heart of their problem is a total misunderstanding of how to take in adequate amounts of protein.

I’m sure you already know that protein is incredibly important for active people because it helps repair and rebuild broken down muscle tissue that is damaged from exercise, both during sports participation and in programs like ours.  

Protein acts as the building blocks, the materials your body uses to rebuild a new and better you.

But it can only be digested in relatively small doses, roughly 20-35 grams per meal.

Considering that active people need between 0.7 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily, that’s a lot of meals that need a good protein source.  Even a 125 lb person needs 3-4 protein-rich meals per day.

So how can any kid, athletes in particular, reach this number if they do not eat a quality breakfast?

Let’s take what appears to be a very common scenario with at least the kids we work with, but probably active kids everywhere.

We’ll start at the point you fall asleep, and assume you are getting 8 hours of sleep and do not get up to eat a meal during this time.

With your remaining 16 hours to get in your protein-rich meals, you choose to not eat breakfast, or have :

  • a bagel
  • toast
  • muffin
  • pop tart
  • scone
  • pancake
  • French toast
  • juice

all of which have no proetin at all.  

Protein cannot be stored and used for a later time, so when you wake up you are desperately in need of an infusion of fresh building supplies, but you let the fast continue even longer.

That gets you to probably mid-morning, leaving at best 12 hours to reach your rebuilding needs.  You’d have to perfectly thread the needle and have a high-protein meal every 3 hours until you go to bed, a nearly impossible task.

So most kids wander through their day underrecovered, developing at a rate that is behind where they could be if they did a better job of spreading their protein meals out throughout their day.

To me, this is where the facination with shakes and supplements comes in for many high school and college athletes.  They are trying to make up for a massive nutritonal error to start the day by overloading their diet with protein later on.

There is nothing wrong with a protein bar or shake sometimes if its not more than about 30 grams worth.

But in huge amounts your body just can’t process it all at once, so most of what you pay big money for literally gets flushed away.

Breakfast is so important for so many reasons, but for active athletes and kids everywhere it is the chance to replenish their protein stores at the start of the day that makes it most valuable.

It is such an athletic advantage that, if you aren’t eating a protein-rich breakfast right now, starting to do so might be the single greatest way you have to improve the performance you see from your workouts and sports practices this summer.

Here are some better breakfast choices for ending your overnight protein fast:


  • Eggs
  • Yogurt (Greek Yogurt has more protein)
  • Ham or another lean meat
  • Lowfat milk


  • Peanut butter
  • Sausage
  • Bacon
  • Protein bar or shake
  • Cheese



When Sports Drinks Help & When They Don’t

Sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc) have become so popular, especially among kids, that to some they are part of their daily diet.   This is an incredible transformation for a beverage that was originally created for performance under the most extreme circumstances.

Certainly there are times that its use is critical for both performance and energy levels.  Hopefully the recommendations below will help you see when it is the right time to turn to a sports drink, and when it isn’t.

When Sports Drinks Help  

Sports drinks are essentially a supplement, something you add to your diet when you are running low on a specific nutrient.

For example, if you lack Vitamin B12 in your diet, a B12 supplement will give you more energy.  If you don’t eat enough protein, a protein shake or bar will speed up recovery and growth.  But without the deficiency, the supplement will do absolutely nothing for you.

Sports drinks are a supplement that quickly re-stocks your glycogen (i.e. sugar) and electrolyte (mostly sodium) supplies when you are exhausted.  Used at the right time, it can re-energize an exhausted athlete or exerciser.

Those times usually happen when:

- You exercise or play a sport for more than 60 minutes straight.

- You exercise or play a sport multiple times in the same day (sports tournaments are a perfect example)

- You are outside on a hot, sunny day for an extended period of time.

When Sports Drinks Do Not Help  

They are not a substitute for fresh fruit or even juice (fresh fruit is better), as it has no other nutritional value.

You will not become super-hydrated by drinking them in excess.  Your best bet to stay fully hydrated is to eat right and drink the real ‘sports drink’ (see below) all day long.

More simply, sports drinks do not help AT ALL unless you have already been active for a long period of time, and/or are in extremely hot weather.

Which means consuming a sports drink usually does nothing for you other than add more sugar and sodium to a diet that is likely too full of both already.

Why?  Your body is already excellent at converting food to glycogen, and as Americans our diets are already filled with sodium.

The only remaining ingredient in a sports drink is the liquid part, which is the part you should be consuming instead of that sports drink…

Water  (If you’ve trained with us before, I’m sure you saw that coming…).

20 Tips & Thoughts On Training

1. Knowing your resting heart rate and measuring it daily to see when it is well above normal is a simple and effective way to know when you, as a fitness enthusiast or an athlete, need to focus more on recovery strategies.

2. Having a ‘fast metabolism’ is something anyone can work towards, but to get there you need to understand how metabolisms work. They are raised by being active of course, but also through the amount of muscle tissue you accumulate (more is better) and the type of food you eat (foods with protein raise it most).

3. Focusing on stability is the single greatest improvement to sports performance training I’ve seen in the last 15 years.  A stable athlete’s strength level always plays up, but an unstable athlete’s strength always plays down.

4. Getting in shape for a sport is uncomfortable because you need to work hard enough to create an after burn effect that forces your body to adapt.   But it needs to be done, because conditioned athletes in every sport are less prone to injury and play better almost all the time.

5. Training is about so much more than athletic performance.  If we can get a kid to understand what it means to commit themselves to a goal that matters to them, and then get them to focus their energies on how to properly go about working towards that goal, we’ve achieved something far more important than success on the field.

6. A 5 to 10 minute static stretch before bed not only relaxes muscles, but also your mind.

7.  Eating is supposed to be enjoyable, even when you’re eating healthy.  No one ever said you had to torture yourself in order to have a quality diet.

8. Focusing first on ‘how well’ instead of ‘how much’ in a workout is something every elite athlete I’ve ever worked with has had in common.

9. 2011 IYCA Coach of the Year and franchise partner Dave Gleason on why we train kids from age 6 to 13,

“You are building a foundation that will give their high school and college coaches more to work with when the time comes.”

10. Every athlete and coach wants their kids to be faster, but few are willing to put in the time to develop it.  Speed improvement takes time, repetition, and dedication to the finer points of athletic movement to be achieved.  If you are the athlete or team that’s willing to follow this path, you’ll end up way ahead of all the kids who give up when they don’t get better in a week or two.

11. If you want a simple way to get an edge on your competition, prioritize training the back side of your body. Most kids fixate on the muscles they can see on the front side, but it is the more powerful ones on the back side that do the most to improve speed, power, and limit injuries.

12. Athletes who get injured almost always struggle with self-confidence and self-image during their recovery.  As parents and coaches we must be very aware of this when digesting the erratic behaviors they will typically show during this challenging time.

13. Every athlete I know who follows a great diet eats breakfast. Every single one.

14. When middle school and high school kids spend more weeks during the year playing their sport than Olympians and professionals, we have reached the point where something is very wrong about how we approach youth sports in our society.

15. The last 30 years has seen an explosion in girls sports participation, and with it a meteoric rise in their injury rates (especially at the high school level).  Getting stronger and more stable are the female athlete’s secret weapons in reversing this trend.

16. Sport-specific training for those age 18 and under is not even close to being as important as identifying individual athletic needs (lack of balance, flexibility, core strength, etc) and hammering away at them until they are no longer a weakness.

17.  Proper warm ups before a workout or practice has been proven over and over to lower the risk of injury during the session that follows.  If you are a coach or fitness enthusiast make sure your warm up includes a good combination of light heart rate elevation and dynamic stretching.  For those who want to improve their flexibility over the long run, move your static stretching to the end of the workout and make it a cool down period that finishes off your practice or workout.

18. Training and youth sports participation has to be fun, no matter how high the skill level.   Would we as adults spend a huge chunk of our time and energy on anything that wasn’t engaging on some level?

19. Sometimes a setback is the best thing that can ever happen to a young athlete, if they are surrounded by supportive people.

20. For those under age 30 you can typically stay in good shape by being active, even if you have a poor diet.  Once you pass age 30, no amount of exercise is going to overcome bad eating habits if you want to stay fit.




3 Food Categories For Young Athletes (And The Rest Of Us) To Avoid

Many young athletes these days seem to misunderstand how much their eating habits are tied into their sports performance.  A diet made up of good, whole foods can increase a young player’s energy levels, keep them from getting sick, improve their body composition, and even lessen the likelihood they get injured.  A poor diet can do exactly the opposite.

And this does not just apply to athletes, or even kids in general.   We are all susceptible to falling into the Big 3 of food addictions, and getting dragged down by the food and drink we consume on a daily basis.

Check out the Big 3 categories below to see if you, your child, or your team is in need of breaking one of these performance-draining habits.  If you’re like most people (myself included), you may be caught in one or more of these unhealthy food traps.


Overeating Sugary Foods

Common signs you are over-focused on sugary foods/drinks:
-  Drinking lots of Gatorade, ‘energy drinks’ or soda
-  Eating candy on a daily or near daily basis
-  Eating cereals with cartoon characters on the box (seriously, its an easy way to tell how unhealthy your cereal is)
-  Daily or near-daily consumption of high sugar foods like ice cream, pie, cookies, muffins, and  other pastries.

Healthy replacement suggestion:
-  Fresh fruit, which is naturally sweet but adds more vitamins and minerals to your diet.  They also do not carry any extra calories, plus they help with rehyrdation.


Overeating High Fat Foods

Common signs you are over-focused on high-fat foods:
-  Eating lots of fried food
-  Using lots of empty fat calorie toppings like butter, cream cheese, mayonnaise, salad dressings, and other similar products
-  Adding lots of cream to coffee and other beverages

Healthy replacement suggestion:
-  Fat is something your body absoultely needs to survive and be healthy.  It is not something you need to avoid entirely.  With that in mind, making sure you have a good protein sournce at each meal will keep you feeling fuller (which is what makes it so hard to not overeat when dieting) .  In addition, most protein sources (eggs, red meat, cheese, nuts, etc) also have a healthy amount of fat in them, too.   Having a steady stream of quality protein will help you stay healthy, recover from your sports and training, plus help to satisfy your fat cravings in a more nutritional way than resorting to creams and dressings.


Overeating High Salt & Processed Foods

Common signs you are over-focused on high-fat foods:
-  Regularly consuming chips and other highly salted snacks.
-  Preference for white bread and white rice over less refined whole grain versions.
-  A preference for highly salted meats like pepperoni, bacon, and salami, among others.
-  Eating pretty much anything that is individually wrapped and couldn’t be grown (fruits and vegetables) or raised (meat, eggs and fish) yourself.

Healthy replacement suggestion:
-  A focus on highly salted foods may be a signal you are chronically dehyrdated.  Salt helps your body retain water, and a craving for it could mean your body is in desperate need of water.   Drinking more water throughout the day plus eating more fruits and vegetables (which your body processes like water) will keep you hydrated and prevent the ravenous hunger feelings that tend to send us to the snack cabinet.


If you see a bad habit here that either you or your young athlete needs to break, start with one small change to get the ball rolling.  Maybe it is changing an after-dinner snack from ice cream to fresh fruit, or adding more protein to your breakfast instead of a bagel with cream cheese.  Whatever it is, take that one first step right away. 

Next week, once your first change has become habit, make another one.  Each week, make it a goal to transition one meal or snack into more healthy food choices.

Particularly when you are younger, these changes can have life-long positive changes to your health.  With childhood obesity at all-time highs, these are problems a growing number of families are having to fight these days.  But with small changes and a long-term dedication to making healthier food choices, all of us can eat healthier when we decide to take action.


The Truth About Muscle Building Nutrition

As a strength coach, the nutrition question you get asked most by your athletes is always some variation of, 

‘Should I be eating more protein to build muscle?’

It really is an important question, and although it usually comes from our male athletes, females who are training to increase strength and power would help themselves immensely by understanding how muscle building nutrition works too.   

To help separate fact from fiction, here’s a few straightforward answers to to common nutritional questions to help both athletes and parents better understand muscle-building nutrition.

Does building muscle mean I am going to get bulky and/or slow?
No.  Every athlete can stand to increase their lean muscle mass, no matter your sport, age or gender.  Lean muscle increases your speed and power, plus it lowers your risk of injury.  

When we talk about muscle building, we should separate it into 2 separate groups of goals – those who need to weigh more to succeed in their sport, and those who don’t want to weigh much more than they do now but need more strength and power.  Both groups need to build muscle, it’s just done in 2 slightly different ways.

The first group needs to train in a very specific fashion, and must slowly increase their healhy food intake over time until they hit their target weight.   This group does need to be careful in how they train and eat in order to avoid getting slower and adding unwanted weight.

The second group needs to focus on strength and power training mostly, and must fine-tune their calorie intake to ensure they are maintaining their desired weight.  This group’s nutritional focus is more on eating healthier than it is on eating more.   If you fall into this group, your chances of bulking up or slowing down are pretty much zero if you’re following quality training and eating plans.


Do I need to eat more protein?
It depends.  You may be eating more or less protein than you need right now.  Follow these guidelines (from ‘Power Eating’ by Susan Kleiner, Ph.D, RD) and compare it to your current intake to see where you stand:

TO GAIN LEAN WEIGHT:  Daily Protein Needs = 0.9 grams X bodyweight in lbs.
(Example – a 100 lb person needs 90 grams of protein per day, a 200 lb. person needs 180 g.)

TO MAINTAIN WEIGHT AND GET MORE MUSCULAR:  Daily Protein Needs = 0.65 grams X bodyweight in lbs. (Example – a 100 lb person needs 65 grams of protein per day, a 200 lb. person needs 130 g.)


Can I just eat a big steak or something all at once to get my daily intake?
OK, so no one has ever asked this question.  But the timing of your protein sources is an important factor that needs to be mentioned.

Take your daily protein requirement and divide it by 6.  This is your target amount of protein for each meal or snack  you consume each day.  Eating it all at once means much of it will be wasted, as your body can only process 30-40 grams of protein properly at any one time. 


Should I just eat everything I can to get bigger for my sport?
Only if you want to get slower and increase bodyfat, two attributes that will definitely not make you a better athlete.  

Your diet still needs to revolve mostly around protein plus fresh fruit and vegetables.   It’s just the amount of each that changes.


Are there other food sources I should eat more of?
Training to gain lean weight means you’ll be expending lots of energy.  And any time you expend lots of energy you’ll need to increase your quality carbohydrate intake to keep up with your body’s demand for fuel.

Brown or wild rice, dark breads, whole-grain cerals, oats/oatmeal, and other healthy carbohydrate sources should be, along with more protein and produce, where your calorie increases come from.


Can I just have protein shakes and bars?
It’s not a smart choice to get all your protein from powders and bars.  Both are great ways to get quality protein in your diet during times when nothing else is avaiable (travelling, during school or practices for example), but they don’t have the vitamins and minerals you get from more natural sources.  Lean meats, nuts, eggs, lean cheeses, fish, and other food sources should make up most or all of your daily protein intake.


Do supplements help me build muscle faster, and are they safe?
I won’t argue with the fact that some supplements speed up the strength and muscle bulding process, but they are not necessary and is some cases are unsafe.

Younger athletes who take supplements to speed up their development may gain muscle quicker, but the supporting tissues that muscles pull on – tendons, ligaments and bones – take much longer to strengthen.   Building muscle faster than nature intended dramatically increases your risk for injury.

In addition, a vast majority of supplements on the market are ineffective, unsafe, or both.   Hard training and good food source still are, and always will be, your best bets to reach your goals.


7 Nutrition Tips To Help You Excel During Sports Tournaments

For many of our athletes, and I’m sure most sports-playing kids everywhere these days, full weekend tournaments are part of their in-season schedule at some point.  They are most common for AAU and elite travel teams, where regional events require many games to be played at one location and in a brief period of time.  Very often, these tournaments present opportunites for young athletes to showcase their talents.  A good showing can potentially open up new doors of opportunity.

To play your best during what is most often a grueling schedule, you’ll need to maximize your eating and drinking habits to stay as fresh and energized as possible right through the last game.  

And this can be a huge problem for young players and their parents, because in many cases you are away from home all day long, with limited time and opportunity to get food in between games. 

If you want to see your young athletes play their best during these multi-game tournaments, and gain an edge over the vast majority of teams that wilt under these challenging conditions, I recommend you follow these 7 simple tips at your next tournament.

1. Eat Small Snacks All Day Long.  You should eat something small almost every hour starting when you get up,  but NEVER anything big until your competitive day is over.  This will regulate your blood sugar and keep your energy levels consistent throughout the day. 

2. Choose Protein, Produce, and Whole Grains.   We’ve told you how important protein and produce (fruits and veggies)  are  for your health,  but in high-energy burning situations whole grains are also important.  They are great sources of carbohyrates (a fast-burning energy source most needed during demanding bouts of physical exertion) and B-Vitamins (the catalysts for energy production). 

Simple choices would be to make sandwiches with whole grain bread, a good protein source (chicken, roast beef, ham, tuna fish with little mayo, or other lean meats) and veggies (dark lettuce, tomatoes, sliced peppers) cut into 1/4 pieces to be eaten in small portions throughout the day.   Even a peanut butter and banana sandwich would work.   Other good additions include sliced veggies (carrots, peppers, etc), fresh fruit (pre-sliced if necessary) and protein bars.

3. Plan Ahead.  Grocery shopping, preparing and packaging all your snacks items will take a little forethought.  As simple as this step seems, it will help you avoid the potential pitfall of showing up and not having as many healthy food choices at the event as you may have thought.  That can leave you having to order pizza, hot dogs, chicken tenders and all the other energy-draining food choices you typically to find at most sports centers.

4. Sip Water Regularly During Games.  Roughly 6 -8 ounces of water for every 1/2 hour of intense exercise will help you keep pace with sweat loss during games.  This would amount to one 16 oz. water bottle per hour.   Adjust this a little higher (an extra 2-6 oz per 1/2 hour) if you tend to sweat quite a bit, weigh more than 200 lbs., or both.

5. Drink Water All Day.    Water is still your best choice for staying hydrated throughout the day.  Consume 1 oz of water for every 2 lbs of bodyweight (50 oz for a 100 lb person, 100 oz for a 200 lb pers0n).    Sip it regularly starting when you wake up, and avoid drinking a ton of it at any one time.  If you prefer sports drinks like Gatorade, cap it at one 16 oz. bottle per day and stick to water the rest of the time.

6. If You Eat Out In Between Games, Go Light.   Without snacking over the course of the day, a subconscious desire to eat begins to grow and grow as the day wears on.  If you make up for this by going to a restaurant to eat, you could be setting yourself up for trouble.  It is hard for a young athlete not to over eat or choose high-calorie items that will wear them down later in the day.  Any time you put an underfed athlete who has been exercising all day in front of a ton of tasty food, you are asking for trouble.

If you do end up going to a restaurant at some point before a game, keep your food choices in line with the above suggestions.  In particular, avoid soda, fried foods, and heavy starch foods.

7. Have Your One Big Meal After Your Last Game.   Particularly if you are playing in a 2, 3 or 4-day tournament, eating a good meal after your last game will help you get a jump on the next day of competition.  Although healthy choices are still recommended, this is the one time where you can go off just a little.  You’ll have plenty of time to digest and regenerate for tomorrow’s game schedule.  Just don’t go nuts.


Tournaments offer kids a great opportunity to test their skills against a high level of competition.  To do so, they’ll need to be physically ready to perform at their best.  What they eat and drink over the course of the weekend can either make or break their success.  Following the few simple steps above will ensure that your child or team gets them most out of their opportunity.

2 Things You Should Eat At Every Meal

Product advertisement, fad diets and out-of-context nutrition guidance has clouded our current understanding of what it truly means to eat healthy.    And this confusion has not been a positive influence on our country – obesity rates continue to climb nationwide, and are skyrocketing in our youth population.

Really though, healthy eating really doesn’t need to be so difficult.  If you need to improve either your dietary habits or your child’s, the way to start is to return to a foundation  that has been the bedrock of human nutrition throughout history – protein and produce.

Foods from these two categories should make up 70 to 80 percent of every meal you eat, and should be your only source of snacks in between meals.

Natural protein sources include meat, eggs, cheeses, tofu, fish, and nuts.   Protein bars and shakes have also become popular, particularly among athletes and people on the go.  They can be good choices too if the product you pick has high quality ingredients.  

Produce refers more specifically to  fresh fruits and vegetables.    There are dozens of each kind that are readily available at any grocery store, and although some are more nutritious than others they are all good for you.

Protein is important because it acts as the building blocks for your body.   We are all in a constant state of renewal and growth, particularly active and growing kids, so we constantly need new materials to continue the never-ending ‘construction project’ that the human body is always undertaking.

Most people know many fruits and veggies are loaded with vitamins and minerals, but they have two other roles that are critical pieces of a healthy diet.  One is that they are high in fiber, which creates a feeling of fullness and calms down any desire to overeat.  Second is that they are excellent for hydration levels, because your body processes them in much the same way it does water.

How To Add Protein & Produce To Each Meal

There are literally endless combinations of ways that you can add fresh fruit, vegetables, and quality protein to each meal of the day,  but here are a couple common ways to get what you need:

BREAKFAST:   2 egg omelette with fresh veggies (chopped peppers, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli) and covered with melted cheese.  Fresh fruit on the side.

LUNCH: Sandwich or salad with a good sized portion of protein (turkey chicken, tuna, roast beef, etc) and at least 4 different kinds of colorful veggies (spinach leaves, tomatoes, sliced peppers, carrot slices, etc)

DINNER:  Fish, chicken, turkey or red meat source with healthy serving of vegetables and fresh fruit for dessert.

How To Snack Focusing On Protein & Produce

Need some nutritious snack ideas for long stretches between meals?  Again, there are tons of ways to do this.  Here are a few simple protein,  fruit and veggie-based snack suggestions:

-  Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and many other fruits (prepackaged by nature!)

- Almonds or nuts

- String cheese

- Carrot sticks

- Sliced peppers (tastier than you think, kids!)

- Protein bar or shake (the shake should have fresh fruit and/or veggies blended in)

- Peanut butter and banana sandwich cut in bite-sized pieces


My suggestion is to take a good look at your current diet (or your child’s) and see how close you are to eating 70-80% fresh fruit, vegetables, and protein.  Find out where you are farthest from this goal (poor breakfast, lunch, snack choices) and target that first.  Then move to the next greatest area of need.

Continue making small changes each week and you will make huge progress over time.  You’ll see improvements in appearance, energy levels, health and self-confidence.

Staying Hydrated – The Key To Your Winter Health

Lost in the modern world of flu shots, over the counter medications and herbal remedies to fight cold and flu season, the best health supplement you can take this winter is plentiful, cheap, and available to everyone – water.

Why?   Humidity levels outside are often very low this time of year, and heating systems create an equally dry atmosphere in our homes and cars.  In these conditions, the air you breathe in does not carry as much water vapor as it usually does.   But you still exhale the same amount of water vapor, so with each breath you create a greater imbalance.

Like all other systems in the human body, your immune system functions best when you are properly hyrdated.   When it is not working at full capacity, it cannot do its job as well as it normally does.

And so, you get sick.

Will drinking water make you invincible?  No, but it will lessen your chance of getting the flu or a cold, and will help you recover quicker if you do.

It is estimated that more than 75% of Americans are chronically dehyrdrated throughout the winter months.  To help you avoid falling into that category, follow these simple tips:

1. Drink Water, Not Gatorade, Flavored Water or Juice – Your body does not process other beverages the way it does water, so nothing else is an adequate replacement from a hydration standpoint.  Despite the glamour and fame of sports drink commericals, the reality is they are not needed in most cases. 

Remember that the original sports drink, Gatorade, was created to help football players survive 3-hour practices in 100 degree weather and 100% humidity while exercising in 30 lbs of football equipment.   Unless your day includes a physical challenge of this magnitude, water will do the trick.

2. Know How Much You Need Each Day – Generally speaking, you need to drink one ounce of water per day for every two pounds of bodyweight.  For simplicity:

A 100 lb person needs 50 oz. of water daily

A 200 lb person needs 100 oz. of water daily

This number is your starting point, and may be adjusted up or down based on the other factors mentioned below.

3. Meet Your Water Intake Needs Consistently – Just like breathing is an all day activity that you shouldn’t take time off from (duh!), the same goes for staying hydrated.  Going even one day without staying at least close to your needed intake will make you more prone to getting sick.

4. Adjust Your Hyrdation Needs For Exercise - Add 4-8 oz of water for every 1/2 hour of lower intensity training, and 10-16 oz for every 1/2 hour of high intensity training.  High intensity would be classified for simplicity as any workout that induces heavy breathing and/or heavy sweating 

5. Eat Raw Fruits and Veggies - One other great way to stay hyrdated is to eat raw fruits and vegetables.  Many are made of mostly water, and your body processes them in a very similar fashion.   Keep in mind that juice drinks DO NOT work the same way. 

6. Avoid Sugary Foods & Drinks – For many reasons, sugar-based foods are not good for your health and dehydration is just one of them.  Keep them to a minimum.

7. Avoid Carbonated Drinks – Even seltzer water falls into this category.  For every 2 ounces of carbonated drinks you take in, add 1 more ounce of water on top of your total above.

8. Avoid or Limit Caffinated Drinks – Coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks dry you out as much as anything.  Add 1 oz of water to your daily total for every 1 oz of caffinated drinks you take in.

And if there is one thing you absolutely, positively want to avoid (or limit drastically) this winter, it’s sodas and so-called ‘energy’ drinks.   They contain sugar, carbonation, and caffeine…..the triple play of poor health!   (The funny thing is that low energy is a key indicator of chronic dehydration, so energy drinks are actually  a leading cause of the same condition they claim to fix.  Is it any wonder they can become addicting?)

9. If You Do Get Sick, Soup Really Does Help – Most soups contain high amounts of sodium, an electrolyte that helps your body retain water.  When you do get sick and are in need of a quick way to re-hydrate, this old trick can get you back on track a little quicker. 

Follow these simple tips to keep your immune system running strong this winter.  It knows what to do, you just need to provide the environment for it to succeed.