50 Ways to Feed Your Muscles

8 11 2011


By Phillip Rhodes
Men’s Health

Every family argues about what to eat for dinner. But the Shrader family of Bluebell, West Virginia, took dinner-table combat to a whole new level last summer when 49-year-old Jackie Lee and his son, Harley Lee, 24, whipped out .22-caliber pistols and exchanged fire after sparring over how to cook their meal.

What food could trigger a kitchen gun battle? The harmless, boneless, skinless—and often flavorless—chicken breast, that’s what.

Sure, this omnipresent cut of poultry is the leanest source of protein this side of tofu or fish—a single serving offers 26 grams of protein for the price of 1 gram of saturated fat. But it’s boring as hell. And it doesn’t help that most people eat their annual average of 88 pounds one of two ways: soaked in Italian salad dressing or slathered in barbecue sauce.

In my mind, that’s exactly how I hear the Shrader feud erupting. “Marinade!” one might have said. “No! Barbecue sauce,” the other yelled. Back and forth it went until it came to blows, then bullets. (Harley Lee took a slug to the head, but managed to survive.)


That’s why I came up with this list—not one, not two, but 50 different ways to prepare a chicken breast. What good is eating healthy food if the boredom nearly kills you?


Basic technique:Cut the raw chicken into bite-sized pieces or thin strips. Cook them in a nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until browned. Then add the remaining ingredients in the order listed. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Tip: Sesame oil gives stir-fries their distinct flavor. Its nutritional profile is similar to that of olive oil (i.e., high in the unsaturated fats you want). But if you don’t have sesame, use canola or peanut oil, since olive oil can burn at high temperatures.

1. 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce; 2 tsp sesame oil; 1/2 c green or red bell pepper, cut into strips; 1/4 medium onion, cut lengthwise into strips; 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2. 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce; 2 tsp sesame oil; 1/3 c matchstick carrots; 1/3 c chopped celery; 1 green onion, sliced; 2 Tbsp chopped, unsalted peanuts

3. 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce; 2 tsp sesame oil; 1/2 c asparagus tips; 2 Tbsp chopped, unsalted cashews

4. 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce; 1 Tbsp lemon juice; 1 tsp lemon zest; 1 tsp honey; 1 clove garlic, crushed; 1/2 c snow peas; 1 c chopped celery

5. 1 whisked egg; 1/2 c (or more) chopped broccoli; 1/4 medium onion, cut lengthwise into strips; 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes; 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce

6. 1 whisked egg; 1/2 c snow peas; 1/2 c green or red bell pepper, cut into strips; 1/4 onion, cut lengthwise into strips; 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce


Basic technique:Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the chicken breast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until an internal roasting thermometer reaches 170°. Don’t overcook it. Err on the side of tenderness. An overcooked, dried-out chicken breast won’t give you salmonella, but you probably won’t want to eat it in the first place.

Tip: Quickly searing the breast in a hot skillet will help avoid dryness because it locks in the bird’s juices.

Watery ready-made sauces like salsa will bake fine—some of the liquid will boil away as the chicken bakes. But thicker sauces, like barbecue or ranch, need water or broth mixed in, otherwise you’ll be left with a sticky, blackened char.

Tip: Use a small baking dish to keep the meat covered with sauce.

7. 1/3 c salsa

8. 2 Tbsp jalapeño cheese dip, 2 Tbsp salsa, 1 Tbsp water

9. 2 Tbsp marinara sauce, 2 Tbsp water

10. 2 Tbsp barbecue sauce, 2 Tbsp water

11. 2 Tbsp ranch dressing, 2 Tbsp water

12. 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 2 Tbsp honey, 1 tsp olive oil

13. 3 Tbsp chicken broth; 1 Tbsp mustard; 1 clove garlic, crushed

14. 2 Tbsp condensed mushroom soup, 2 Tbsp water

15. 2 Tbsp pesto, 2 Tbsp reduced-sodium chicken broth

16. 2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1/4 c crushed pineapple with juice

17. 3 Tbsp chicken broth, 2 Tbsp light coconut milk, 1/4 tsp curry powder

18. 1/3 c chicken broth, 1 Tbsp maple syrup, 1 Tbsp apple juice

19. 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar; 1 Tbsp barbecue sauce; 1 clove garlic, crushed

20. 2 Tbsp hot sauce, 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 tsp chili powder

21. 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 Tbsp orange marmalade, 1/4 tsp rosemary

Rub one of the following spice mixtures evenly over each breast, then hit the chicken with a shot or two of cooking spray (not too much, though) to hold the rub in place and help form a light crust when cooking.

22. Tex-Mex style: 1/4 tsp each garlic powder, chili powder, black pepper, and oregano; pinch of salt

23. Southwestern: 1/4 tsp each black pepper, chili powder, red pepper flakes, cumin, and hot sauce

24. French: 1/4 tsp each dried basil, rosemary, and thyme; pinch of salt and pepper

A whisked egg acts like glue, holding the crust to the meat. It also gives your poultry a small protein boost. Crack one open in a shallow bowl, whisk it, and dip the chicken in it. Tip: Put your crust ingredients in a shallow plate instead of a bowl—it’ll be much easier to coat the breast evenly.

25. Nut crusted: Dip the chicken in the egg, then roll it in 1/3 c nuts of your choice, finely chopped. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

26. Parmesan crusted: Dip the chicken in the egg, then roll it in a mixture of 1 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp Italian bread crumbs, and a pinch of black pepper.

27. “Like fried”: Dip the chicken in the egg, then roll it in 1/2 c crushed cornflakes or bran flakes. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Relax, this isn’t hard. First, pound the heck out of the chicken breast with a meat tenderizer or the heel of your hand—you want it to be uniformly thin. (Just be careful not to tear it.) Then, arrange your ingredients on the breast, roll it up, and secure it with toothpicks or kitchen twine so it doesn’t come undone while it’s baking.

28. 1 slice Cheddar cheese, 2 slices deli ham, 1/4 tsp black pepper

29. 1 slice mozzarella cheese; 3 slices pepperoni; 3 leaves fresh basil, chopped

30. 1 slice mozzarella; 1/4 c chopped tomatoes; 3 leaves fresh basil, chopped

31. 1 small handful baby spinach leaves, chopped; 1 Tbsp blue-cheese crumbles; 1 clove garlic, crushed

32. 1 slice mozzarella, 1 slice salami, 1 Tbsp chopped roasted red pepper

33. 1 1/2 Tbsp part-skim ricotta cheese, 1 Tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1/4 tsp oregano

34. 1 1/2 Tbsp part-skim ricotta cheese, 1 Tbsp diced olives, 1/4 tsp lemon zest

35. 1 Tbsp pesto, 1 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese, 1/4 tsp black pepper



Basic technique: Heat the grill, place a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat on the stove until it’s hot, or power up the Foreman. Add the marinated chicken, cooking 3 to 5 minutes per side (6 to 8 total on the Foreman), or until an internal roasting thermometer reaches 170°F. The chicken doesn’t stop cooking when you take it off the heat. If it’s still hot, it’s still cooking.


Marinades need only about an hour or so to penetrate the meat. Whether you’re cooking one chicken breast at a time or four at once, just mix the marinade ingredients well in a resealable plastic bag, drop in the chicken, seal, shake, and refrigerate.

Tip: If you’re grilling, make a little extra marinade and reserve it in a separate bag or bowl. Brush it on the chicken during cooking to keep the meat moist.

36. 2 Tbsp bourbon, 1 tsp deli-style mustard, 1/4 tsp black pepper

37. 2 Tbsp bourbon; 1 tsp honey; 1 clove garlic, crushed

38. 2 Tbsp white wine; 1 clove garlic, crushed; 1/4 tsp thyme

39. 2 Tbsp red wine; 1 tsp barbecue sauce; 1 clove garlic, crushed

40. 2 Tbsp Coca-Cola, 1/4 tsp black pepper

41. 2 Tbsp balsamic vinaigrette, 1/4 tsp rosemary

42. 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp lemon zest, 1/4 tsp black pepper

43. 2 Tbsp plain yogurt, 1/4 tsp dill

44. 2 Tbsp plain yogurt, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp curry powder

45. 2 Tbsp lime juice, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp cilantro

46. 2 Tbsp lime juice, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

47. 2 Tbsp orange juice, 1/4 tsp powdered ginger, 1/4 tsp cilantro

48. 2 Tbsp orange juice, 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

49. 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

50. 2 Tbsp pineapple juice; 1 clove garlic, crushed; 1/4 tsp black pepper



Athletes: What to Eat and When for Top Performance

5 11 2011


By Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD
For Active.com

Hot off the press from three prominent nutrition and exercise associations—the American Dietetic Association, American College of Sports Medicine, and Dietitians of Canada—is the 2009 Joint Position Stand on Nutrition for Athletic Performance.

While there is little earth-shattering news in this comprehensive document (available on www.eatright.org), the authors comprehensively reviewed the research to determine which sports nutrition practices effectively enhance performance. Here are a few key points on what and when to eat to perform at your best.

1. Don’t weigh yourself daily! What you weigh and how much body fat you have should not be the sole criterion for judging how well you are able to perform in sports. That is, don’t think that if you get to XX percent body fat, you will run faster. For one, all techniques to measure body fat have inherent errors. (Even BodPod can underestimate percent fat by two to three percent.) Two, optimal body fat levels depend on genetics and what is optimal for your unique body. Pay more attention to how you feel and perform than to a number on the scale.

2. Protein recommendations for both endurance and strength-trained athletes range from 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound (1.2-1.7 g/kg) body weight. For a 150-lb. athlete, this comes to about 75 to 120 g protein per day, an amount most athletes easily consume through their standard diet without the use of protein supplements or amino acid supplements. Vegetarian athletes should target ten percent more, because some plant proteins (not soy but legumes) are less well digested than animal proteins.

If you are just starting a weight-lifting program, you’ll want to target the higher protein amount. Once you have built-up your muscles, the lower end of the range is fine.

3. Athletes in power sports need to pay attention to carbohydrates, and not just protein. That’s because strength training depletes muscle glycogen stores. You can deplete about 25 percent to 35 percent of total muscle glycogen stores during a single 30-second bout of resistance exercise.

4. Athletes who eat enough calories to support their athletic performance are unlikely to need vitamin supplements. But athletes who severely limit their food intake to lose weight (such as wrestlers, lightweight rowers, gymnasts), eliminate a food group (such as dairy, if they are lactose intolerant), or train indoors and get very little sunlight (skaters, gymnasts, swimmers) may require supplements.

5. If you are vegetarian, a blood donor, and or a woman with heavy menstrual periods, you should pay special attention to your iron intake. If you consume too little iron, you can easily become deficient and be unable to exercise energetically due to anemia. Because reversing iron deficiency can take three to six months, your best bet is to prevent anemia by regularly eating iron-rich foods (lean beef, chicken thighs, enriched breakfast cereals such as Wheaties and Total) and including in each meal a source of vitamin C (fruits, vegetables).

6. Eating before hard exercise, as opposed to exercising in a fasted state, has been shown to improve performance. If you choose to not eat before a hard workout, at least consume a sports drink (or some source of energy) during exercise.

7. When you exercise hard for more than one hour, target 30 to 60 grams (120 to 240 calories) of carbohydrate per hour to maintain normal blood glucose levels and enhance your stamina and enjoyment of exercise. Fueling during exercise is especially important if you have not eaten a pre-exercise snack. Popular choices include gummi candy, jelly beans, dried fruits, as well as gels and sports drinks.  More research is needed to determine if choosing a sports drink with protein will enhance endurance performance.

8. For optimal recovery, an athlete who weighs about 150 pounds should target 300 to 400 calories of carbs within a half-hour after finishing a hard workout. More precisely, target 0.5-0.7 g carb/lb (1.0-1.5 g carb/kg). You then want to repeat that dose every two hours for the next four to six hours. For example, if you have done a rigorous, exhaustive morning workout and need to do another session that afternoon, you could enjoy a large banana and a vanilla yogurt as soon as tolerable post-exercise; then, two hours later, a pasta-based meal; and then, another two hours later, another snack, such as pretzels and orange juice.

9. Whether or not you urgently need to refuel depends on when you will next be exercising. While a triathlete who runs for 90 minutes in the morning needs to rapidly refuel for a three-hour cycling workout in the afternoon, the fitness exerciser who works out every other day has little need to obsess about refueling.

10. Including a little protein in the recovery meals and snacks enhances muscle repair and growth. Popular carb+protein combinations include chocolate milk, yogurt, cereal+milk, pita+hummus, beans+rice, pasta+meat sauce.

11. Muscle cramps are associated with dehydration, electrolyte deficits and fatigue. Cramps are most common in athletes who sweat profusely and are “salty sweaters.” They need more sodium than the standard recommendation of 2,400 mg/day. Losing about two pounds of sweat during a workout equates to losing about 1,000 mg sodium. (Note: eight ounces of sport drink may offer only 110 mg sodium.) Salty sweaters (as observed by a salty crust on the skin of some athletes) lose even more sodium. If that’s your case, don’t hesitate to consume salt before, during and after extended exercise. For example, enjoy broth, pretzels, cheese & crackers, pickles and other sodium-rich foods. The majority of active people can easily replace sweat losses via a normal intake of food and fluids.

Final Words of Advice

If you can make time to train, you can also make time to eat well and get the most out of your training. Optimal sports performance starts with good nutrition!

Nancy Clark MS, RD counsels casual exercisers and competitive athletes at Healthworks, the premier fitness center in Chestnut Hill, MA (617-383-6100). Her NEW 2008 Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook 4th Edition, and her Food Guide for Marathoners and Cyclist’s Food Guide are available via www.nancyclarkrd.com. 

7 Ways to Eat Smart and Lose Weight

26 10 2011


By Chrissy Wellington M.S., C.N.S., L.D.N., C.P.T
For Active.com

With fall right around the corner, how can you stay consistent in the months ahead and maintain your beach body?

The weight-loss industry confuses us on a daily basis. Many diets have been created and promoted that drastically differ from one another. These diets have gained popularity even with very little research to support their claims.  Weight loss should be as simple as addition and subtraction. To lose weight, burn more calories, eat your vegetables and pass on the dessert. Yet, the component of weight loss we often forget is not necessarily the “what” we are eating, it’s the “how” we are eating.

The A-Z Diet study compared the Atkins (extremely low carbohydrate), Zone (low-carbohydrate, high protein), Ornish (very low fat), and USDA Guidelines/LEARN (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships and Nutrition) (high carbohydrate/moderate-low fat) diets for one year and results show that all dieters lost weight over the course of the yea. Yet Atkins seemed to hedge out the most weight lost. Theories about why this group lost just a little bit more are very clear: when these folks eliminated refined foods and sweetened beverages from their diet, they also eliminated empty calories.

The bottom line when it comes to weight loss is to burn more calories than you take in. You can easily do that by shaving extra calories from food and beverages and increasing caloric burn through physical activity.

How much should I weigh?

A healthy weight is defined as the weight you would attain after a sustained period of time, (12-18 months). During this time you must eat the best that you can eat, and exercise to the best of your ability.


Take Care of Your Metabolism

Eat Breakfast

Eating breakfast is a daily habit for “successful losers.” Insulin sensitivity is higher after eating breakfast. Insulin is a hormone released in response to eating. Insulin sensitivity refers to how well the body responds to the hormone insulin. When you eat more earlier in the day, your total caloric intake throughout the day actually decreases. Wake up with protein. When consuming lean protein in the morning, don’t forget to add omega-3 rich eggs or egg whites; low-fat, organic dairy; lean and clean breakfast meats; as well as high protein, whole grains like steel cut oatmeal or quinoa.

Count Calories

Calories are the energy in food. Regardless of where they come from, the calories you eat are either converted to physical energy or stored as body fat. If you eat 100 calories a day more than your body needs, you will gain approximately 10 pounds in a year. About 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound of fat. For a one pound weight loss, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in or cut 500 calories from your daily diet each day.

Portion Distortion

Choose satisfied over stuffed. The sizes of your portions affect how many calories you’re getting. Double the amount of food equals double the number of calories. Most Americans underestimate how much they’re eating, especially when dining out. Always plate your food. Eating out of the box or bag gives you no sense of what or how you are eating. Serve foods  with measuring cups, or spoons to see how much you are actually eating. The average woman, with moderate daily exercise should be consuming approximately 3 to 4 oz. of lean protein per meal, half to 1 cup of whole grains per meal, and 1 to 2 cups of brightly colored fruits and vegetables per meal.

Eat Fiber

Fiber comes from plants, particularly legumes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Foods which are high in fiber are usually low in calories. More of these types of foods can be eaten without consuming too many calories. Fiber rich foods can be quite satisfying. They need a longer amount of time to break down. Fiber slows the rate of digestion helping us feel full longer. Aim for 25 to 50 grams of fiber rich foods daily. Be sure to balance the intake of the soluble and insoluble forms (i.e. fruits, vegetables and whole grains.)




Although snacks are part of a healthy diet, they can become a source of extra calories. Always keep moderation in mind. The goal for snacking is to limit snacks to 150 to 200 calories.  Always include the three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Always understand the ingredients, avoiding anything artificial or refined.

Small meals consumed approximately every three hours can contribute to stable blood sugars throughout the day. Choose treats that are high in fiber (5 grams or more per serving) such as, bean dips, fruits and vegetables with peanut butter or hummus, and low-fat dairy. Choose whole grains that have a low glycemic index and include a small amount of protein with them to keep your cravings in check.

Sleep Enough

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 63 percent of American adults are not getting the recommended eight hours of sleep a night.  When afternoon hits, most people are confusing fatigue with hunger. The trip to the vending machine is justified.  These foods do make us feel better, because they quickly raise blood sugar due to the large amount of saturated fat and refined carbohydrates. Poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation can elevate levels of ghrelin, which is our appetite-stimulating hormone, and lower levels of leptin, our appetite-suppressant hormone. As a result, we take in more calories throughout the day leading to ultimate weight gain.


The key to successful weight loss and improved overall health is making physical activity a part of your daily routine. The key to weight control is balancing your intake with expenditure. Exercise along with cutting calories helps to improve your weight loss. A 2011 JAMA article shows that approximately 150 to 200 minutes of exercise each week regardless of duration or intensity may result in weight loss.

Chrissy Wellington is co-author of Navigating the Supermarket: A Nutritious Guide to Shopping Well. To pick up a copy of her book, please visit willpowermatrix.com/public/120.cfm.

How to Avoid Hidden Calories When Dining Out

17 10 2011


By Jaylin Allen


Dining out is an inevitable part of most of our lives. We have birthday parties, family outings, and times when we are on vacation without access to a kitchen. What we can really benefit from is the knowledge of what to avoid when dining out.

The basics aren’t always so basic. We are taught to eat veggies, protein, and brown rice. We are told that salads are good. Again, it isn’t so simple at restaurants.

The key to restaurants is to know how things are prepared. The preparation is everything here.

A “Chinese Chicken Salad” could be the healthiest, or least healthy item on the menu. The key is to ask and read about the details. Go for grilled chicken versus crispy chicken. That saves about 50 percent of the calories.

A salad may be quite healthy—until you top it with creamy ranch dressing. When dining out, ask for oil and vinegar instead of choosing their house dressing. Your average dressing runs about 250 calories per tablespoon. Oil and vinegar is about 120 calories. Also, you might consider just using the vinegar for a mere 10 to 20 calories per serving.

Finally, choose steamed versus stir-fried vegetables. Read this part out loud—avoid the bread basket.

It may seem simple but really, avoid this oh, so tempting part of dining out. Breadsticks, chips, and French bread, are all empty calories that will not help your weight-loss attempts.

You can have fun while dining out, even while watching for those hidden calories and fat. Knowing what to avoid is the first step to getting there.



Jaylin Allen is an expert Fitness Trainer in San Diego with over 12 years experience. Her company, Bootique FItness is known as the solution for women’s fitness as they get their clients into great shape in record time through personal training, zumba, nutrition and women boot camps in San Diego. Check out her site bootiquefitness.com or call 619.602.8087.

5 Secrets to Reach Your Running Goals

11 10 2011


By Jessica Sebor


Chocolate RX

Does a piece of chocolate a day keep the doctor away? A Snickers bar may not beat out an apple in a “healthiest treat” competition. However, doctors may begin to recommend cocoa for patients who suffer from certain diseases.

A study published in Nutrition Journal found that chocolate containing high levels of cocoa can alleviate symptoms for sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome. Researchers believe that the health properties lie in the substance polythenol, an antioxidant also found in berries, cantaloupe and olive oil.

Silver Screen Speedsters

To get a runner’s high without leaving your couch, put a marathon movie on your Netflix queue. If you’re looking for laughs, Hood to Coast is a barrel of fun. The documentary follows four teams as they race 200 miles in the legendary Hood to Coastroad race. The teams include a group of women over 50, as well as a flock of hilarious animators—all racing towards the finish, strengthening and testing friendships along the way.

If a dose of inspiration is in order, pick up Fast Women, which features a group of real women, training hard to earn a spot in the 2008 Olympic trials marathon. Miles and Trials, which will debut next year, focuses on Chicago-area locals at¬tempting to make it to the 2012 trials.

Master Your Stride

Master runners beware. Your running stride could put you at risk for injury. A recent study from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom examined the biomechanics of a group of young women (ages 18 to 24) and mature women (40 to 60). Researchers found that while running, the mature group displayed a higher degree of knee internal rotation and rear-foot eversion—both movement patterns associated with overuse injuries.

No matter what your age, you can visit a sports medicine doctor or physical therapist to have your running form assessed to ensure that your stride keeps you moving toward the finish line—not the sidelines.

Stand to Lose

Could your career make you fat? If you have a desk job, the answer is: “Yes.” Sitting for just one hour per day burns approximately 50 fewer calories than standing. This may not seem like a lot, but that single hour spells up to 10 pounds of weight gain over the course of one year.

A recent study at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center followed 17,000 Canadians and found that individuals who sat the most were 50 percent more likely to die before their next checkup than the subjects who sat the least. These findings were found to be accurate even amongst people who didn’t smoke and who exercised regularly.

To prevent yourself from becoming a statistic, set your desk calendar to send you a “walk around” alert every hour. Or try Gruve, a device developed in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic that tracks your movement and starts to vibrate when you’ve been sitting for too long. $200, gruve.com

Pinpoint Relief

Acupressure has been used for centuries to alleviate pain and anxiety. In a recent study, researchers from Michigan State University found that acupressure treatment significantly reduced fatigue in breast cancer survivors.

While you must visit a certified professional for personalized treatment, a new product from Sweden allows you to receive acupressure simply by lying down. At first glance, the Vila Mat appears to be a cross between a medieval torture device and a yoga mat. According to the company, resting on the mat’s sharp plastic teeth increases circulation, boosts endorphin levels and aids in relaxation. $40, vilanow.com

Peanut butter: A super sports food

7 10 2011

Nancy Clark, MS, RD
For Active.com

In this day and age of energy bars, protein powders and weight gain shakes, many athletes forget about “real” foods, such as peanut butter.

Peanut butter, in my opinion, is one of the best sports foods around.

It’s tasty, inexpensive, satisfying, nourishing — and even good for our health. But all too often, I hear athletes say “I don’t keep peanut butter in my house. It’s too fatty, too fattening,” or “I ration peanut butter to once per week — on my Sunday morning bagel.”

They try to stay away from peanut butter. That’s nuts!

Yes, peanut butter is calorie-dense. But it can beneficially fit into your sports diet. The following information explains why I vote peanut butter (and all nuts and nut butters, for that matter) to be a super sports food for athletes who want to eat well and invest in their health.

  • Peanut butter is satiating and satisfying — perfect for dieters. Because you will never win the war against hunger, your best bet is to eat foods that keep you feeling fed.This means, foods with protein and fiber — like peanut butter (and nuts in general). You’ll feel fuller for longer if you have half a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter, as compared to the same amount of calories of a plain white bagel.The protein and fiber in peanut butter “sticks to your ribs” and is not fattening — unless you overeat total calories that day.

    A Purdue University study reports subjects who ate peanuts every day did not overeat daily calories. (Kirkmeyer, Int’l J Obesity 24:1167, 2000). Peanut eaters tend to naturally eat less at other times of the day. (Alper, Int’l J Obesity 26:1129, 2002).

    Plus, if you enjoy what you are eating on your reducing diet, you’ll stay with the food plan and be able to keep the weight off. This is far better than yo-yo dieting!


  • Peanut butter is a quick and easy way to reduce your risk of heart disease. Just slap together a peanut butter (and honey or jelly) sandwich on multi-grain bread, and you have the makings of a heart-healthy meal, if not a childhood memory.A quick and easy peanut butter sandwich is healthier, by far, than a fast-food burger or fried chicken dinner and far better than an equally easy “meal” of chips or ice cream. That’s because peanut butter offers health-protective mono- and polyunsaturated oil.Trading burgers (saturated fat) for peanut butter sandwiches reduces your risk of developing heart disease. In fact, the more often you eat peanut butter (and nuts), the lower your risk of heart disease. (Hu, J Am College Nutr 20(1):5, 2001).

    Start spreading peanut butter (instead of butter) on toast. Enjoy PB and banana for a “decadent” snack in place of ice cream.Peanut butter is an affordable source of calories. If you are a hungry athlete who needs 3,000 or more calories a day, you can spend a significant amount of money fueling yourself (especially if you routinely eat protein bars, weight gain shakes and other engineered sports foods).

  • Peanut butter can fuel your body without breaking the bank. One hundred calories of peanut butter (about 1 tablespoon) costs about 7 cents, far less than 100 calories of other protein sources, such as cottage cheese (55 cents per 100 calories), tuna (60 cents) and deli turkey breast (75 cents).
  • The cost of 200 calories of peanut butter is about 15 cents, far less than the $1.49 you’d spend on 200 calories of an energy bar … and generally, the peanut butter is far tastier!Peanut butter is a source of protein, needed to build and repair muscles. But take note: Peanut butter is not protein-dense. That is, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter — the amount in an average sandwich — provides about 7 grams of protein. In comparison, the calorie equivalent of turkey in a sandwich offers about 20 grams of protein.
  • Athletes who weigh 140 pounds, for example, may need 70 to 100 grams protein per day; 200-pound athletes, 100 to 150 grams. For 100 grams of protein, you’d have to eat the whole jar of peanut butter! Unlikely!
  • To boost the protein value of peanut butter, simply accompany it with a tall glass of milk: a PB&J sandwich + 16 ounces lowfat milk = 28 grams of protein, a good chunk of your daily requirement.
  • Milk simultaneously enhances the value of the protein in the peanut butter sandwich. That is, peanuts are low in some of the essential amino acids muscles need for growth and repair. The amino acids in milk (as well as those in the sandwich bread) nicely complement the limited amino acids in peanuts.
  • Peanut butter is a reasonable source of vitamins, minerals and other health-protective food compounds. For example, peanut butter contains folate, vitamin E, magnesium and resveratrol, all nutrients associated with reduced risk of heart disease.
  • Magnesium is also associated with reduced risk of adult-onset diabetes. Peanut butter offers a small amount of zinc, a mineral important for healing and strengthening the immune system. As an athlete, you need all these nutrients to keep you off the bench and on the playing field.
  • Peanut butter contains fiber — not a lot (1 gram per tablespoon), but some. Fiber in food contributes to a feeling of fullness that can help dieters eat less without feeling hungry.
  • Fiber also promotes regular bowel movements and helps reduce problems with constipation. By enjoying peanut butter on whole-grain bread, you can contribute 6 to 8 grams of fiber toward the recommended target of 20 to 35 grams fiber per day.
  • Peanuts contain mostly health-protective mono- and polyunsaturated fats. When peanuts are made into commercial peanut butter (such as Skippy or Jif), some of the oil gets converted into a harder, saturated fat. This keeps the oil from separating to the top. The hardened oil, called trans-fat, is less healthful.
  • But the good news is, commercial peanut butters contain only a tiny amount of trans fats and just a small amount of (naturally occurring) saturated fat. For example, only 3.5 of the 17 grams fat in two tablespoons of Skippy are “bad.”
  • To minimize your intake of even this small amount of unhealthful fat, you can buy all-natural peanut butter. If you dislike the way the oil in this type of peanut butter separates to the top of the jar, simply store the jar upside down. That way, the oil rises to what becomes the bottom of the jar when you turn it over to open it. And if you eat peanut butter daily, you won’t have to refrigerate it, thereby making the all-natural peanut butter easier to spread.
  • Caution: Peanut butter is a poor source of the carbohydrates needed for muscle fuel. Don’t try to subsist on peanut butter by the spoonful! Luckily, peanut butter combines nicely with banana, bread, apples, oatmeal, crackers, raisins, and even pasta (as in Thai noodle dishes). These combinations will balance your sports diet.
  • Copyright: Nancy Clark, MS, RD 9/04
  • Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD offers nutrition consultations to casual and competitive athletes at her private practice in Healthworks (617-383-6100) in Chestnut Hill, MA. Her “Sports Nutrition Guidebook” ($23) and “Food Guide for Marathoners” ($20) offer abundant information on how to enhance your sports diet. Both books are available at www.nancyclarkrd.com or by sending a check to PO Box 650124, West Newton MA 02465.

What is the Two Week Rule and How does it Help you Stick with Running

6 10 2011


by Chris Harig

Adopting the Two Week Rule – Incorporate Running into a Lasting and Healthy Lifestyle

When I started running competitively thirty years ago I had no plans and no
real coaching.  It was simply that I could run.  I was built for it.  The
town of Cumberland, RI had a pretty good summer track program and neighboring towns would get together for weekly track meets and as a six year old kid, I would jump into any race the “coach” said to and try to get to the finish
line first.  It seemed to work for this wiry young kid and I would take my
finisher ribbons and tack them to a cork board in my room when I got home.  By
the time I was nine, they had to stick me in the teenage girls events because
there weren’t any distance races for the little guys.   Growing up, my
father used to call me “the squirrel” as I seemed to always be dashing here
or there and I think my parents needed me to burn off  all that energy before

Competition seemed to be the only thing that fueled my desire to run.  I
wanted to fill that cork board with blue ribbons.  But as I got older, I
realized it took more than just raw energy to get those ribbons and coaching
played an increasingly important role in keeping me running.  I began to have a
profound respect for the “weekend warrior”.  Years later I started to
develop a set of rules that would support a lasting running plan and healthy

Like most everyone, getting started again became increasingly difficult and
required discipline and guidance to get back into shape.  About fifteen years
ago, amidst a relatively successful college running career, I would coach high
school runners in the off season.  And I began with the 2-week rule.

The Two Week Rule

Simply put, I would tell the gang, “give it two weeks”.  Basically, if you
give it two weeks, then you will stick with it.  Now that may seem a little too
simple, but there is truth in there.  After a couple of days, these kids would
be very sore and walking up and down stairs at home would make their legs scream for mercy.   After about a week, grumpiness would set in and I would lose one or two of them to TV and video games or girls.  But those that stuck with it started to come around after about two weeks.  They began to “get it”.
Things started to click and the body began to adjust to the added workload.

Two weeks became the first milestone that I set and as I went through my own
time away from exercising or racing, I would always start back with the two week
rule.  Later, when I began to study physiology in graduate school, I realized that
there was a bit of science to back some of my assumptions.  The physiological
effects were also matched by the psychological gains with setting and meeting
goals. While putting adults through a beginner fitness program, I would tell
them to not be overwhelmed by all the demands of nutrition and weight scales and schedules.  Just show up.  The rest will come.  And the two weeks will turn
into another two.

As I begin this series on running, my goal is to cover more of “the rules”
and maybe set a framework you can use to build your own program.  Hopefully,
you come back to read up on things like choosing the correct running shoes or
the how to incorporate speed work.  We’d like to hear from you all with
questions and feedback.  Some of those will shape the direction of this
column.  We will be focusing on running, but some rules are equally relevant to
any new program you may be beginning towards a lasting and healthy lifestyle.
But whatever you may be starting and no matter how intimidating the goal, give
it two weeks.

Chris Harig is competitive runner, multisport athlete, and coach based in the
Seattle area.  In 2007 and 2008, he was the top American at the ITU Duathlon
World Championships.  More about Chris Harig. See Chris’s 1Vigor Log Calendar