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6 Ways to Eat More Fiber

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– Nutrition –

Make beans the centerpiece of your meals, throw Swiss chard and spinach in your smoothie, and four other ways to amp up your fiber intake.

Fiber is not the most glamorous nutrient, but it’s one of the most essential — and the most overlooked: 95 percent of Americans don’t get enough. Daily recommendations range from 21 to 38 grams, but most Americans eat 16 grams or less.

Fiber is essential for keeping food moving through your digestive system, but it also plays other surprising roles. It helps control cholesterol and regulate blood sugar, protecting against hypertension, heart disease, stroke, gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, including breast and lung cancers. And new research suggests it also aids your microbiome.

Try a few of these tips to increase your intake:

1.Toss a handful of spinach or Swiss chard into the blender when making a smoothie.

2. Give beans and lentils a starring role in meals: They’re prime sources of soluble fiber. Pair your breakfast eggs with black beans and salsa. Dine on bean soups, bean dips or hummus, or lentil salads.

3. Enjoy salads packed with greens and other veggies — or combine them with whole grains.

4. Keep snacks simple and healthy: Power up on apples, oranges, and bananas. Nuts and seeds also provide a solid energy and protein boost.

5. Make veggies and beans the centerpiece of dinner with a salad, stir-fry, or cornucopia of sides. Squash, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts deliver abundant soluble fiber. Onions, garlic, and potatoes offer plenty of prebiotic fiber to feed your microbiome’s probiotics. Carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, and beets are all loaded with insoluble fiber.

6. Add nuts, berries, or a banana to your breakfast granola or oatmeal.

This originally appeared as “The Fiber Gap” in the April 2020 print issue of Experience Life.

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Health & Fitness

How to Pack a Gym Bag

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Forgetting your socks or weightlifting gloves can derail your workout, especially if you’re new to exercise or entrenched in a rigid program. To stay the course, having the right supplies is key to your success. To help you prepare, we asked Life Time personal trainers Anna Taylor, NASM, USAW, Alpha, and Bryce Morris, MS, NASM, ISSA, Alpha, for their favorite gym-bag essentials.

Staples

  • Stretchy, flexible, sweat-wicking shirt and pants or shorts
  • Socks (two pairs)
  • Undergarments, sports bra, support, or protection
  • Cross-trainers or sport-specific shoes
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Flip-flops for showering
  • Hair binders, deodorant, toiletries
  • Sports watch or heart-rate monitor
  • MP3 player/phone and earbuds or headphones for music

Nice to Haves

  • Swimsuit for the whirlpool or sauna
  • Wet/dry bag for swimsuit or sweaty clothes postworkout
  • Razors: Some clubs offer them in the locker room, but bring a reusable one to cut down on waste
  • Odor-absorbing charcoal sticks to keep your bag smelling fresh
  • Shaker bottle with premeasured protein powder so you can add water and refuel

Coach Anna also suggests:

  • A protein-packed bar to eat before your workout
  • Bear KompleX Hand Grips for pull-ups
  • A weightlifting belt for lifts at 80 percent or more of max

Coach Bryce also suggests:

  • An extra T-shirt
  • A RPM speed rope for double-unders and conditioning
  • A BCAA and L-glutamine supplement to support recovery after your session

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