DIET TIPS FOR BUSY PEOPLE #472 08/10/11
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8 Tips on How to Fit a Balanced Diet into Your Busy Schedule

By Maura Tibbs

Welcome to a typical day at the office. Most of us know it well. You're not even at your desk yet, and your mind is already preoccupied with emails to answer, phone calls to return, and meetings to attend. Before you know it, lunchtime rolls around and you're running on nothing but caffeine. By this point, you're fighting hunger pangs, so you head to the vending machines as a temporary solution, or maybe you grab something unhealthy at a nearby fast-food place or roach coach. Five or six hours later, the hunger hits you again and the cycle repeats itself. Does this day sound familiar? If so, you're not alone.

Person Working On a Computer

These days, a mere 8-hour workday is becoming less and less common. A lot of us are working additional hours at home, on our laptops, and via our smartphones. With crazy hours like these, the best way to make sure you stay on track nutritionally is to prepare yourself a week's worth of healthy meals in advance. Here are a few tips for doing just that.

  1. Master the grocery store. When you arrive at the grocery store after work, you're starving and in a hurry to get home. Without thinking, you find yourself drawn into the bright, shiny, end-of-aisle displays like a moth to a flame. Before you know it, you're about to fill your cart with 10 frozen pizzas for $10.

    Stop! Change direction. Go straight to the produce section and select enough lettuce and fresh vegetables to make a salad that'll last you all week. It's best to avoid the center aisles, which contain all the processed foods you want to avoid, and keep to the perimeter of the store. This path will lead you to healthy choices like veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, lean meat, and poultry.

    The items being promoted in the aforementioned end-of-aisle displays are rarely healthy food options. Keeping this in mind will help you walk past these traps and head straight for the good stuff.
  2. Cook out on Sunday. Roast a bunch of chicken, make a big stew, and grill some veggies; you'll have a great meal on Sunday and enjoy the leftovers for the next few days.

    Another thing to do on Sunday to prep for the week is to wash and chop all that lettuce you bought while strolling the perimeter of the store and put it in a zip-top bag. With this combination, you'll have fresh, healthy food to put into meals all week.
  3. Food in ContainersMake over your leftovers. Reinvent last night's chicken (or other protein) for the next day's lunch. Throw it in a tortilla with some salsa for a yummy burrito. Heat it up with some curry seasoning and chickpeas. Put it in a whole-wheat pita pocket or between two slices of whole-grain bread with crisp lettuce and your favorite seasonings for a healthy sandwich. Toss it into that great salad you prepared, along with some fresh or grilled veggies. The possibilities for different, great-tasting meals are easy—and limited only by your imagination.
  4. Prepack your snacks for work. You may not always have time for a full meal at work, and that's OK. The night before a busy day, measure out foods—nuts, dried fruit, baked chips, sliced veggies—you can graze on all day. Measuring the portions in advance helps assure that you won't accidentally snarf down an entire 1,000-calorie bag of trail mix.

    Another great approach to snacking that'll help satisfy you until your lunch (or dinner) rolls around? Some of that protein you cooked up on Sunday, in convenient snack portions. Quick bites of chicken, beef, tempeh, or tofu with the seasonings of your choice make for a great snack option. And having fresh, lean protein rather than packaged, processed snack items will not only help curb cravings; it'll also give you sustained energy and help you fight hunger throughout the day.
  5. Hydrate in fashion. Instead of going through tons of plastic bottles at your desk, buy yourself a fancy water bottle. Busy people often forget to hydrate properly. In addition, the average American drinks 57 gallons of soft drinks each year! You can avoid the temptation to purchase soda by refilling a beautiful Klean Kanteen® with water throughout your day. On a budget? Wash out a glass water, juice, or milk bottle and make that your go-to reusable water bottle.
  6. Fruit and VegetablesBe smart about beverage calories. The average American consumes around 400 calories a day in liquid form! This includes soda, sport drinks, energy drinks, juice, and flavored ice teas. You can be smart by making sure any calories you drink are in the form of a meal replacement rather than a hydrator. (Water's still the best hydrator out there.) Shakeology® is a great meal-replacement shake for busy people, because it's convenient, jam-packed with important nutrients and antioxidants, and low in calories.
  7. Combine forces. The total price of ingredients is much higher when you're buying smaller items and amounts. Cooking for one can seem inefficient, especially when your produce is spoiling and you have to deal with the guilt that comes with throwing away a bag of spinach, or a bundle of brown bananas. Combining forces with a roommate, a coworker, or a friend who lives nearby can help cut costs. If your friend is also health conscious, you can gain support from and give advice to one another.
  8. Don't go fad-hopping. Will all the new diets, food crazes, and "miracle" supplements popping up, it's easy to feel confused or insecure about your current choices. If your plan is working, just stay the course. If you want to try something different, it's a free country, but don't hop on the latest trend just because your workmates are all talking about it at the water cooler. Do your homework. Read critiques. Talk to people who have tried it for longer than a weekend. Ask yourself, "Is it healthy? Does it involve whole, real foods? Is it realistic?" Finding and keeping a diet that supports your lifestyle will more likely result in long-term success.

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development (who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards), in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, August 22nd, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, recently named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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Tips for Staying Cool: Avoiding Heat Exhaustion

By Steve Edwards

As summer nears, the lure of sunshine, warmth, and poolside idleness becomes tempting. This is especially true if you've just spent the spring working on looking good in your bathing suit. But keeping your physique toned through the summer months involves another challenge. As temperatures soar, heat exhaustion becomes more a likelihood than a possible concern. Let's take a look at how to stay cool so you can ramp up your workouts, whether P90X® or Power 90®, even as the mercury rises.

Two Woman Outside

What is heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is one phase of hyperthermia, a condition that occurs when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate. When hyperthermia reaches the advanced stage known as heat stroke, medical attention is absolutely necessary, because death becomes a very real possibility. Minor cases of heat exhaustion aren't life threatening and occur regularly, especially in warm weather, but should be taken seriously and treated, because heat exhaustion can quickly turn into heat stroke if it's allowed to progress.

The weather doesn't have to be hot for hyperthermia to occur. Heat can be created artificially by drugs or medical devices, or can occur naturally through exercise or improper fueling of the body. But as the weather gets warmer, your margin for error decreases, because your body temperature will increase without your doing anything active. This is especially true early in the year when you aren't used to warm weather. Those coming off a cold winter are particularly vulnerable.

By the numbers, it looks like this: Normal body temperature is around 97° to 99°F (36° to 37°C). Anything above 104°F (40°C) is considered life-threatening. At 106°F (41°C), brain death begins, and by 113°F (45°C), death is nearly certain. Since anytime you "feel hot," it usually means your body temperature is edging its way past normal range, it's not hard to see that you don't have a large buffer before your condition may become serious.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion

Sweating is your body's response to overheating. The process pulls heat from inside the body and pushes it out as perspiration, where it will evaporate on the skin and cool the body further. So sweating is the first sign of overheating and should indicate that you should adhere to proper hydration strategies in order to keep this process working.

When you're hot and you stop sweating, this means your body is in serious trouble and you should initiate aggressive measures (see "Daily strategies," below). Before you reach this point, it's likely that you'll experience other warning signs. The most basic is feeling hot. Feeling hot means that your sweating mechanism is being overworked or is not doing its job properly. The skin will then flush or become red. Headaches, an upset stomach, feeling faint, and/or an increased heart rate are all indicators that your condition is getting worse.

If your condition isn't treated, it'll decline further. Dizziness and/or nausea are likely to follow. Your skin may change from red to pale or bluish in color. Feeling hot will be replaced by feeling chilled. Convulsions are a possibility. In this state, the body begins to fail and the priority should be focused on reversing the situation.

Thousands of people die from hyperthermia each year. A study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine followed the progress of patients admitted to intensive care units for heat stroke and found that nearly half the patients died within a year—28 percent died after their release from the hospital. This shows that the effects of heat stroke place long-term stress on the body. But it also shows that it's highly likely that those who experience hyperthermia probably do so by making daily mistakes on the prevention side. So let's look at how to avoid hyperthermia on a daily basis, and what to do when we slip up.

Daily strategies

Woman  Drinking WaterHydration is the key. A properly hydrated body will not be hyperthermic. But hydration can be tricky, especially as outside conditions change. Reacting to weather changes requires more than consuming your recommend 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. This is because water is only one side of the equation. Body salts called electrolytes are the other side. The primary electrolyte is one of the more misunderstood nutrients on the planet: salt.

Staying hydrated requires that you keep a balance of water and salt. As we heat up, our requirements for both of these things increase. The standard requirement of 6 to 8 glasses of water per day can change to per hour under extremely hot conditions when you're exercising. Salt can be even more confusing. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for sodium is 2,500 milligrams per day. But a person sitting inside in cool temperatures may only need 500 milligrams per day, whereas someone exercising in the heat may sweat out 2,000 milligrams in 1 hour! This means that the RDA is a random number based on an average. How much salt you need is directly related to your lifestyle and the weather. The more you sweat, the greater your need for salt.

Too much salt and not enough water is a deadly condition that most of us are aware of, but too much water and not enough salt will kill you even more quickly. Since most of us have plenty of salt in our daily diets (and millions of us have too much), we tend to focus mainly on water intake for staving off dehydration. But ensuring that you have a balance of water and electrolytes becomes vital as the temperature rises.

While it can be confusing, this dilemma isn't all that hard to sort out. There's a great margin for error when it comes to hydration, and it's not vital to get it perfect, unless you're competing in a sport. For most of us, just being aware that we're drinking extra water and getting some salt in our diets as demands on hydration increase is enough. Sweating is an easy way to tell that you're getting this right. If you're sweating in the heat, you're doing something right. Beginning to cramp is a sign that you're out of balance one way or another, and a simple solution is to add more of the one you've been consuming less of, either water or salt. For most of us, it'll be water, but if you exercise a lot or eat a low-sodium diet, it may be salt. This unscientific protocol is perfectly adequate to keep most of us functioning fine through the summer.

When it gets hot

Woman Applying SunscreenWe're pretty good at adjusting to heat over time. By far, we're at most risk when the weather initially changes. It takes around 5 to 7 days to adjust to living in elevated temperatures. During this period, your body undergoes a series of changes that makes continued exposure to hot conditions more endurable. If you handle the adjustment carefully, you're most likely set for the season, save for those times you choose to put yourself in an exposed situation.

Obviously, hydrating well during these periods is vital, but other methods of staying cool should also be considered. Covering exposed skin with light-colored, loose-fitting clothing is helpful, as is using sunblock liberally on all exposed areas. Nothing makes this transition more challenging than allowing your skin to get burned on your first day in the sun. Summer is also hat season. Your scalp is susceptible to burning, even if you have a lot of hair.

If you do get burned, keep your skin bathed in lotion and out of the sun. If you're forced outside for hours on end, especially doing something physical, consider dumping water over your head or on your neck every so often. Continually exposing your body to something cold will keep your body's core temperature low and prevent cardiac drift (a state wherein you heart beats faster to keep up with a climbing body temperature) from occurring.

Dealing with acute situations

Once you've become overheated, you want to reduce your body temperature as quickly as you can. This has been debated over the years. In fact, during the 19th century, public pumps had warning signs stating that drinking cold water during excessive heat could kill you. Modern and recent studies have shown the opposite. First, "it's quite difficult, if not impossible" to kill someone by cooling them quickly when they're overheated, and second, the quicker you can cool someone off, the faster they will recover.

Woman Drinking Out of a Fashionable BottleCold-water immersion is the most effective way to lower a high body temperature. Of course, it's not always practical or possible, but any step in this direction will help alleviate the situation. If nothing cold is accessible, use whatever is available. Warm water on the skin, or almost anything damp, will still create convection with the air and mimic sweat. Getting to the shade or covering all exposed skin helps too.

If the situation is dire, or prolonged exposure to heat has occurred, you should seek medical advice, even if the situation seems under control. Excessive exposure can cause trauma that's not always apparent, and some amount of medical support, like an IV drip of electrolyte solution, can keep the body from incurring any long-term damage.

Maurice Ndukwu of the University of Chicago Medical Center warns that heat stroke is often more serious than it's given credit for. In the Annals of Internal Medicine, he states, "Classic heat stroke is a deadly disorder, more complex, more often fatal, and more permanently disabling than the literature on this order would predict. This [study] drives home the crucial importance of prevention and rapid diagnosis and treatment."

Reference:

Casa D.J.; McDermott, B.P.; Lee, E.C.; Yeargin, S.W.; Armstrong, L.E.; and Maresh, C.M. "Cold Water Immersion: The Gold Standard for Exertional Heatstroke Treatment." Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews: July 24, 2007.

Related Articles
"7 Tips to Keep Cool on the Cheap"
"Sleep and Muscle Growth"
"Could Getting Moving Be Your Muse?"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development (who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards), in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, August 22nd, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, recently named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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Recipe: Original Orange-Jicama Salad

Orange-Jicama Salad

This cool, refreshing salad combines the crunchiness of jicama with the citrusy tanginess of oranges. The perfect side dish for a balmy summer evening barbecue. (Plus it's rich in fiber!)

  • 4 large seedless oranges, peeled and divided into sections
  • 1 lb. jicama, peeled and cut into strips
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 4 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 4 cups torn red leaf lettuce
  • 1 Tbsp. roasted pine nuts

In medium-sized bowl, toss together oranges and jicama. In separate bowl, whisk together juices, vinegar, and oil. Pour over fruit. Cover and chill 2 hours (or longer).

Toss lettuces together in large bowl. Arrange orange-jicama mixture on top, and garnish with nuts. Serves 4.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes (plus 2 hours or more to chill)

Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
192 3 grams 37 grams 9 grams 4 grams < 1 gram

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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