Over the past several years, I’ve encountered many people who swear by different eating habits as well as many claims about the number of meals that should be eaten per day in order to maximize the metabolism or lose weight. In particular, the most common debate that I have encountered is the debate between eating fewer, larger meals each day (typically 3 meals) or eating a greater number of smaller meals throughout the day (typically 6 meals is the suggested number for this theory). Is one of these patterns of eating really proven to be better than the other?
· Eating three larger meals per day is sufficient for your body’s nutritional and energetic needs, but might not be ideal if you’re trying to lose weight.
· Eating six smaller meals per day boosts your metabolism, regulates blood sugar levels, and reduces cravings by not allowing yourself to get so hungry in between each meal, making it a good tactic for weight loss.
· Eating more frequent, smaller meals has not been shown to boost metabolism. Some claims say that because digesting food slightly raises the metabolism while the process of digestion is actually occurring (this is true and proven and is called the thermic effect of food), it makes sense that the more often we eat, the more time our bodies spend digesting the food with an elevated metabolism. In reality, it’s all about the amount of food and the calories consumed. For example, if you eat 2,000 calories for the whole day, whether you consume those calories in three meals or in six meals, the thermic effect of food will be the same for that day.
· Concerning the issue of blood sugar regulation, this study seemed to conclude that the individuals who consumed six smaller meals per day did have consistently higher blood glucose levels throughout the day, but that the individuals who were eating three meals per day had lower normal blood glucose levels overall, which can be beneficial for people with diabetes. The people eating three large meals per day may have had bigger “spikes” in blood sugar with each meal, but their blood sugar levels evened out to be lower overall.
· Does eating more frequent meals reduce cravings? Perhaps, but this study showed that the individuals eating three meals per day reported higher satisfaction levels and lower levels of hunger through better appetite control compared to those eating meals at the higher frequency.
The conclusion of the debate:
· These two studies (1, 2) appear to have busted the myth about more frequent meal consumption leading to increased weight loss. In studies of participants who were trying to lose weight and consumed the same amount of calories each day, when one group consumed those calories in three meals and the other group consumed those calories in more frequent meals throughout the day, there was not any scientifically significant difference in the weight lost by the two groups.
So the conclusion to which I personally came after looking into this topic was that the very best tactic you can adopt is to listen to your body and figure out what works best for you! I find that when I’m truly hungry, I can’t be satisfied by just eating a small meal or a snack—I usually need a full meal to get rid of the nagging hunger or I’ll just keep snacking. For some people, eating six meals in a day would mean nearly doubling their caloric intake, because it’s honestly just hard to stop eating if you don’t feel truly full. For others, eating three meals is just never enough to stop their stomachs from growling in between meals. The simplest equation possible is to eat when you are truly hungry (not just in a nibbling mood), stop eating when you feel full and satisfied, and to repeat the pattern when you’re truly hungry again! This will result in the best energy balance and the most comfortable eating pattern for your body and will definitely lead to a better day overall—no one likes feeling hungry!
Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
A handful of you aren’t leaving campus this summer, but for those that are, your health kick doesn’t have to be on pause until August. Even if you’re counties, states or countries away from the SRC or Rams Head Rec Center, you can still stay in shape. Here are some tips to have your healthiest summer yet!
- Training Time: Have you ever been to Campus Rec’s YouTube page and seen the Training Time videos? A few personal trainers have filmed 5-10 minute videos so that you have a well put together routine, no matter what your fitness abilities are. Posted are lower body, upper body and total body workouts. Additionally, there are videos completely devoted to foam rolling, abs, glutes and other fitness topics.
- Take Cardio Outside: Just because you don’t have an elliptical doesn’t mean you can’t get in some cardio. Take your dog on a walk, go on a hike with a friend or listen to that new playlist while you run. Sure, it’s hot, but as the saying goes, “Nobody ever drowned in sweat!”
- Strength Train Without Weights: Wait, what? If you don’t have a set of dumbbells or any weight machines, how are you supposed to strength train? It’s possible. Just Google a few routines without weights and you’ll find so many moves. Some classics – pushup, walking lunge, plank, mountain climber, squat jump, crunch – I could go on! Trust me, it’s easy to get an entire body workout without any equipment.
- DVDs: I am one who has done it all! P90X, TurboFire, Insanity, basic Pilates DVDs. You can find some workout DVDs online (like from Amazon) for extremely cheap and, for others, you can pay a pretty penny. But those 90-day workouts are really equivalent to the cost of a gym membership and are a lot more convenient (sorry to get all infomercial-ly on you). Look at some descriptions and reviews and find a DVD that is right for you!
- Watch What You Eat: At school, you’re probably used to the cheap basic food staples. Bananas, peanut butter, oatmeal, etc. At home, your mom may be making you fried chicken a couple times a week and maybe you’ll meet high school friends out for dinner pretty frequently. Just be careful of your eating habits at home and remember to keep it as healthy as you can. Click here for some summer recipes you can make at home and here for Campus Rec’s Pinterest page (with lots more delicious recipes).
You will survive a few months without the gyms on campus, I promise! And, of course, you could join a gym at home (warning – it won’t be as amazing as it is here!). Have a healthy and safe summer and continue to check back here for the latest fitness info!
Staying fit and eating healthy doesn’t have to mean cooking in your room every night. This is college – you’re supposed to go out, celebrate birthdays, hang out with friends after a long week of exams, support benefit nights and any other reason you find to eat at a restaurant on Franklin Street!
Eating out is not always the healthiest option though, but it’s inevitable. Living a healthy lifestyle does not mean you have to trap yourself in your dorm room every night. Below I’ve listed some restaurants on Franklin Street with smart options. Many of their websites provide nutritional information so you can decide what to eat before you get there, read the menu, get overwhelmed and decide to order the unhealthy cheese fries.
- Pita Pit – This place is like Subway, but in pita form! You have all the veggies and lean meats to choose from. Have yours in salad form or on a whole wheat pita!
- Sweet Frog/Yogurt Pump – Okay, so frozen yogurt can be filled with tons of added sugar. These places almost always have one or two “No Sugar Added” options to choose from. Add some fresh fruit or nuts as a topping and you’ve got a low-calorie treat.
- Qdoba/Chipotle – I always avoid chips and tortillas (i.e. burritos, quesadillas, etc.). But if you get a burrito bowl – that is, all the meat, veggies and salsa of a burrito without the tortilla – you’ve got yourself a great, filling meal.
- Caribou/Starbucks – Coffee places can be tricky, but if you show up prepared, you can easily get an under 100-calorie drink. If you don’t have time to look at the menu, you can always go for a plain ol’ cup of joe.
- Bandido’s Mexican Cafe – Again, don’t even look at those chips. Once you eat one, you won’t stop. But at Mexican restaurants, you can always enjoy a taco salad (I just don’t eat the shell) or split fajitas with a friend. Plus, at this place, they have a salsa bar – that means all-you-can-eat tomatoes!
- Med Deli – Hummus made out of chickpeas? Olive oil covered tomatoes? Lean meats? What more could a health conscious person ask for? You’re bound to find a fresh choice at this infamous restaurant.
- Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe – I try to avoid the M&M pancakes (although it doesn’t always work out). Getting an omelet with lots of veggies or some whole wheat toast and fresh fruit is a great option if you’re ever craving a breakfast out!
- McAlister’s/Panera – These places are known for being healthy, but always be sure to check the nutrition information before ordering. While there are a handful of healthy salads, sandwiches on whole wheat bread and low-calorie soups, some are loaded with fatty, high-calorie dressing or mayonnaise-based spread. Like some other Franklin Street places, if you come prepared, there are many great options to choose from.
10 Things Trainers Wish You Knew About Your Workout: Real Simple interviewed some trainers and found out the most common exercise mistakes, but the article doesn’t leave you hanging there. Find out what mistakes you might unknowingly be making and how to easily correct them in order to see better results in the gym!
How to Become a Morning Workout Person: I’ve gone to the gym at all sort of hours and I think it’s safe to say that it’s an extremely small minority that are morning workout folks. If you skip hitting the snooze button and exercise in the morning, that leaves the rest of the day entirely free. If you want to learn how to painlessly make it to the gym before your day gets busy, read this article from Women’s Health.
15 New Ways to Use Protein Powder: Tired of the ol’ fruit and protein powder smoothie? Get your protein fix in from one of these Daily Spark recipes, including cake, cheesecake pancakes and more! You can even whip up a recipe or two for your friends and they’ll have no idea they’re building muscles while they chew.
6 Ways to Jumpstart Your Interval Training Today: We’ve all been told that interval training is the most effective way to workout. Still not doing it though? Body Building will teach you how it works, how to incorporate it into your usual routine and how to put a plan into action.
Do you ever get to the gym and feel somewhat clueless? Working out isn’t as simple as just showing up and getting into your routine. Whether you are new to the gym or a veteran, follow this plan to prepare for a workout. It’ll help you avoid injury, perform your best and see results.
- Plan – What will you do at the gym? Weights, cardio or a combination of both? Come to your workout with a specific plan. If you do, you’ll be less tempted to skip out the hard stuff. If I wait to do my abs after my workout, sometimes I’ll just skip and go back to my dorm a tad early. Know exactly what you will do and for how long at the gym. If you’re like me, do your abs before your cardio. Know which arm exercises and which leg exercises you’ll perform. Know how many miles you will run on the treadmill or how long your set of sprints will be. Be prepared!
- Fuel – As I’ve stated before, it is incredibly important to have a pre-workout meal. Maybe “meal” isn’t the right word, but a snack with some carbohydrates is a great way to get your body ready for intense exercise. Try some fruit, a granola bar or even some toast with peanut butter. Carbs will fuel your body with the energy it needs to get through any sweat session.
- Warm Up – If you’re short on time, it can be tempting to skip the warm up. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT skip this 5-10 minutes. If you casually walk into the SRC and go straight into doing heavy squats or extreme sprinting, you can easily hurt yourself. Skipping these few minutes could force you to skip the gym for months to recover from a major injury like a pulled hamstring or a torn ACL. Seriously, it happens. So just save yourself from injury and warm up your muscles prior to an intense workout.
- Stretch – You can either do dynamic stretches (like these from Runner’s World – which help warm up your muscles while stretching them) or stretch after warming up your muscles with an easy walk on the treadmill or any light cardio. Skipping your stretch session could lead to injury. And, believe it or not, simply holding a stretch for 30 seconds prior to warming up could also damage a muscle. It is important to warm up while stretching, like through dynamic stretches, or warm up slowly and then stretch after.
- Get Rest – Sometimes the best way to prepare for a workout is to skip one. If you’ve been doing intense workouts everyday for a week, you should take a day of rest. Your body needs to recover and rebuild. You’ll come back to your workout the next day feeling better than ever.
Who’s excited for Spring Break?! No, I don’t really need a response. By the signs of the zombie-like students in the library, I know we are all ready for some relaxation.
Whether you’ll be home with the ‘rents or traveling somewhere, you can still stay fit. Here are some tips for an enjoyable, fun and healthy Spring Break.
1. Relax – Stay mentally healthy and rest your mind. You have a full week of no tasks, no homework, no tests and no papers. A time will come to focus on those assignments, but for the time being, just relax.
2. Get Active – Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you have to lay out on the beach all day. Throw a Frisbee around with some friends, go on a hike somewhere or take a swim in the ocean/pool. Get moving!
3. Slather on the Sunscreen – You don’t want to come back to Chapel Hill looking like a lobster. For the sake of taking a shower without feeling like your skin is burning, oh – and for the sake of healthy skin – put on that sunscreen! And make sure you reapply every hour or after you swim.
4. Eat Wisely – Break isn’t a time to indulge in every food item in sight. Sure, enjoy eating with friends but don’t make food the focus of your vacation. Focus on the good times.
5. Get Your Sleep – Whether you’re at school or on Spring Break, getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night is incredibly important. Try to get a full night’s sleep so you’ll be rested and ready for the coming day.
6. Don’t Skip Meals – It can be tempting to skip meals so you can’t keep sleeping on your lounge chair on the beach for another few hours. Eating three meals a day is important, though. So get up, and go grab something to eat. Your chair will wait for you.
7. Be Healthy Post-Spring Break – If you’ve overindulged and were a bit lazier than you had hoped, don’t fret. Create a healthy plan after Spring Break to get back on track. Forgive yourself because your body deserves to be treated right.
Have a wonderful, safe and healthy Spring Break! The blog will continue to be posted on Mondays and Thursdays, but if you’re without internet, we’ll see you the week after!
Two very exciting events are coming up this week and next! On Wednesday, Feb. 20, it will be a Neon Night featuring GlowGa at the SRC. This will take place from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Everyone – yes, you, you and you – should be rocking some sort of neon. Steal one of your mom’s 80s outfits, your boyfriend’s neon frat tank – whatever you have to do!
If you’re wearing neon during Neon Night, you’ll be entered into a raffle. Prizes will be given away every 15 minutes. Then at 8 p.m., Campus Rec will get started with GlowGa. Never heard of it? It’s quite simple – glow sticks + yoga = GlowGa. Get it? Guys and gals are free to join; yoga gurus and those that have never been to a class before are welcome. No matter what your experience with yoga is, this is sure to be a fun class.
So leave the usual white v-neck shirt behind and come to the SRC wearing your loudest colored outfit. Win prizes, wear glow sticks and do some yoga!
A week from today, Monday, Feb. 25, from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m., the SRC will be hosting Eating for Exercise: The Recipe for Fitness. Campus Rec has teamed up with Carolina Dining Services for this educational event. If you’ve been wondering about what to eat before and after your workout (and if you love free food), this event is for you.
A nutritionist will provide those who come out with advice on what to eat pre- and post- sweat sessions. Then, a 30 minute High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T) class will be held followed by a Q&A session. Food samples will be provided as well as healthy recipes and pre-made workout routines to take on-the-go so you can make yourself a meal plan or fitness routine if desired! In addition to the nutritionist, a personal trainer will also attend and can answer any questions you may have.
So come out to either (or both!) programs! Neon Night and GlowGa will be full of fun – oh, and prizes. And Eating for Exercise: The Recipe for Fitness will provide you with all the information you need to have a personal trainer-approved fitness routine and nutritionist-approved recipes. We want you to enjoy living a healthy lifestyle but also want to help you see results doing it! See you then!
Want to experience everything that Campus Rec has to offer and earn free gear! Campus Rec is hosting its first “Rec Experience.” Complete five activities in five weeks and receive a workout kit that includes a t-shirt, water bottle, workout towel and gym bag.
The program runs from February 1 through March 8. So today, you can pick up an Activity Card in the Main Office located in the SRC. Every time you complete an activity, get your card stamped by the Campus Rec employee leading the activity. Get five stamps and you win!
There are seven activities to choose from and they are…
- Visit Tuesday Table in the SRC from 4:00-7:00 p.m. any Tuesday (duh) and inquire about Campus Rec’s social media outlets. Added bonus – there are almost always freebies at the table, like water bottles, whey protein powder and shakes!
- Attend any Cycle class in the Fetzer Hall Cycle Studio. Click here for the Cycle class schedule. And if you’re not sure what to expect, you can read my review here!
- Attend any Pilates class in the SRC. You can read about the benefits of Pilates here and my review of the class here!
- Attend any Muscle Cut Barbells class in the SRC. Click here for the group fitness class schedule. I know, shame on me, but I honestly haven’t tried this class out yet. But I’ve interviewed one of the fabulous instructors, Colleen Daly. Yes, Ms. UNC herself! Check out that interview here!
- Visit the Functional Movement and Fitness Center (FMFC) for a FREE Fitness Service. Click here for FMFC hours and services. I did this and it was so helpful to figure out how to improve my fitness abilities! I blogged about my experience (and what I did well at and realized what I needed to work on).
- Attend GlowGa on Feb. 20th. Picture it…yoga with glow sticks! A night of fun and, of course, prizes! Click here for more information. And of course, a blog post on it coming to a computer near you soon!
- Attend a very special event, Eating for Exercise: The Recipe for Fitness, and learn what you should eat before and after a workout. Click here for more information.
The Rec Experience is a great way to learn more about all that Campus Rec has to offer! For additional information, please visit campusrec.unc.edu/rec-experience. If you have further questions, you can contact Karen Cunningham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve made it to the “Tuesday Table” at the SRC, Tuesdays (obviously) from 4:00-7:00 p.m., you’ve probably been given some protein shakes, whey protein powder and other free goodies. But when do you use these? Before or after exercising? How do you fuel up for a workout and how do you help your muscles recover?
Ms. Mary Ellen Bingham, MS, RD, CSSD, head sports nutritionist at UNC, recommends “book-ending”. This means you eat something small both before and after your workout. To fuel up and in order to have enough energy to get through your time at the gym, eat within about an hour prior to exercising. Then, eat again within 30 minutes – don’t wait until lunch or dinner time to eat. These don’t have to be complete meals, but more so, snacks.
Check out the image below on nutrient timing that Ms. Bingham created. (Click for larger image).
For pre-workout, carbs will give you the energy to push yourself and not get exhausted. Try crackers or toast with peanut butter, fruit, a small granola bar or a handful of pretzels. Post-workout, you want to refuel your muscles. First and foremost, make sure to drink water! All that sweat is going to leave you dehydrated, so you need to be drinking before, during and after your workout. Additionally, have a combination of both carbs and protein such as trail mix, a sports bar, a smoothie or – the classic drink that promotes fast muscle recovery – low-fat chocolate milk.
Previously, I interviewed Dr. Abbie Smith, an assistant EXSS professor. If you read this interview (I don’t want to repeat it all!), you’ll find other similar advice. Dr. Smith gave me nutritional advice for those trying to gain muscle, those trying to lose fat, what “cheat days” are all about and supplement information. That blog post is extremely informative and can clear up some further questions you may have about nutrition for athletes.
So, if they’re right for you, continue with your protein shakes, nutrition bars or whatever your usual pre/post workout snack may be! Remember – carbs before and a combination of carbs and protein after.