Archive for April, 2013

postheadericon Farmer’s market power picks 2013

For many of us across the country, this has been a long, cold, and snowy winter. What a pleasure it will be to see colorful, fresh, and locally grown produce! As you peruse the bounty at the local farmer’s market (or the local grocery or coop), here are some nutritional powerhouses to keep in mind for your basket:

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Artichokes: Vitamins C and K, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese
Asparagus: Protein, Vitamins A, C, E, K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Phosphorus,Potassium, Copper and Manganese
Blueberries: Vitamins C, K and Manganese
Broccoli: Vitamins A, C, K, B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese
Carrots: Vitamins A, C, K and Potassium
Grapes: Vitamins C and K, phytosterols
Kale: Vitamins A, C, K, B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese
Mustard greens: Vitamins A, C, E, K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium,Copper and Manganese
Spinach: Protein, Vitamins A, C, E, K, B6, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese
Tomatoes: Vitamins A, C, K, Potassium and Manganese

Nutritional data source

postheadericon Cardio before weights, after weights, or not at all?

I have tried weight training every which way – lifting before doing cardio, lifting after doing cardio, lifting and cardio as separate sessions in the same day, and lifting and doing cardio on different days. There is a great deal of discussion about this on various fitness oriented websites and magazines. Although many people like to get the cardio out of the way first, I seem to remember more people recommending cardio after weights (observational memory only – I didn’t actually count how many websites recommended each). The Ripped Dude is a firm believer that cardio AFTER weights burns the maximum amount of fat (and cites the research). Some think that the goal (muscle building vs. fat burning) determines the order. And still others don’t think we should be doing any cardio at all! What’s a weightlifter to do?
mms_picture(12) Like with many of these questions, ultimately we have to do our research, have a little trial and error, and figure out for ourselves which way works for us at any given time in the life cycle. For me, I have come to the conclusion that weights and cardio in the same workout session no longer works for me, and I am leaning towards not even doing them on the same day. When I began weightlifting, I quickly dispatched the notion that I could do cardio first. Uh-uh. Even a twenty minute stint on the treadmill and I was not going to be able to give the lifting session my best effort, and I found myself trying to save my energy for the session to come. Plus, doing cardio first made it challenging to get my pre-workout nutrition right. I like to consume some liquid protein just a few minutes before I start lifting. Know what it’s like digesting a high protein shake immediately after doing 20-30 minutes of running or HIIT? Sat like a boulder in my stomach. Ok, so cardio first was out – but what about cardio after? I actually did do that quite often for about a year. However, as time went by and I needed to lift heavier and heavier weights (unlike what is in the photo), again, I found that the second phase of the workout (even if it was cardio) suffered from lack of my best effort. So no dual session workouts. That leaves different session same day workouts or different day workouts. After some further experimentation, I have decided on the following:
If it is a weight day and I do weights first, I’m done. No cardio that day (sometimes for the day following as well!)
If it is a weight day and I do some cardio in the morning, I can lift in the afternoon and it is fine. But there has to be a space of a few hours and at least one good solid meal in between.
If it is a cardio day, I focus on that only, unless it is a really light workout and I plan to lift later in the day.

What about you? Do you do cardio and weights on the same day? And if so, in what order?

postheadericon Nutrient highlight – Vitamin D

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This is the first of what is going to be a regular feature of The Weightlifting Herbivore. We will periodically look at a different vitamin or mineral and learn about why it is important to people interested in strength training and overall health.
Seems like there has been a lot of talk lately about vitamin D and how many of us are not getting enough of it. What is vitamin D and why do we need it? While commonly referred to as a vitamin, vitamin D is actually a prohormone (a substance that can be converted into a hormone). It can be made by a variety of organisms after exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a number of conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and psoriatic arthritis, among others. Vitamin D is important for musculoskeletal functioning and for maintaining muscle and bone strength.

How much vitamin D do we need and where can we get it? There has been much debate about how much vitamin D we need, and many feel that the U.S. RDA of 600 IU or international units (800 IU for those 71 years of age and older) is too low. Multivitamins can contain as little as 30 IU or as much as 1000 IU or more. There are also separate vitamin D supplements. But, as with most things, we are often advised to discuss the RDA with our physician to determine the best dose for each of us. As for food sources, there are not many, and none of them are vegan (or even vegetarian except eggs for ovo-vegetarians). The best source seems to be a good vitamin D supplement.
sources: Vitamin D Council
Harvard School of Public Health
Speaking of supplements, vitamin D supplementation is a particularly tricky situation for vegans, because many of the sources of supplemental D are animal based (particularly lanolin). Sunlight exposure is ideal, but most of us do not live in climates where we can get the required amount of sunlight year round to satisfy the body’s need. So for those of us looking for vegan supplemental Vitamin D, here are some options:

Supreme Vegan D by VegLife, 2000 IU

Raw D3 by The Vitamin Code, 2000 IU

Vegan D3 in veggie softgels by Country Life, 5000 IU

Vegan Vitamin D by DEVA, 800 IU

postheadericon Six yummy beans to boost your protein

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Beans are a staple food, not just for vegetarians and vegans, but for many people around the world. They are inexpensive (compared to many other protein sources), keep well in either dry or canned form, and are very versatile. They also have a good amount of protein and are quite filling. Here are six of my favorites:

Protein content is per half cup of cooked bean

Black beans: 7 grams
Good in: chili, bean burgers, on nachos

Black eyed peas: 8 grams
Good in: stew, served over grain dish

Cannellini (white beans): 10 grams
Good in: stew, chili, served over grain, sauteed with greens and garlic

Chickpeas: 7 grams
Good in: mashed as a sandwich filling with vegan mayo and spices, dry roasted as a snack

Edamame (soybeans): 11 grams
Good with just a pinch of salt/salt free shake or plain

Lentils: 9 grams
Good in: soup, served over grain dish, in chili

postheadericon Multivitamins for vegetarians that ARE vegetarian

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I am always amused/annoyed when I see vitamins that are supposed to be formulated for vegans or vegetarians (meaning they include nutrients of special interest to vegans or vegetarians) but actually contain animal derived ingredients – such as lanolin or the gelatin based gel-caps. Or, when the item claims to have “100 vegetarian capsules” in the bottle, but when you read the ingredients, the vitamins themselves are animal derived. The CAPSULES may be vegetarian, but the ingredients aren’t! Makes me wonder if these companies are really thinking this through. Or perhaps they have an old fashioned understanding of vegetarianism (“you still eat chicken, though–right?”)
For anyone interested in good health, but particularly for people who are active and exercise vigorously, some good vitamins are important. We know that modern agricultural practices often result in our food being less nutrient dense than it may have been in the past (please see this article for more on that). Plus, the demands of modern life can be stressful. Add to that a physically demanding workout regimen, it’s no wonder that we may be in need of some extra help in the nutrient department.
I have tried a number of vegan vitamins over the years, and I still like to vary the brand from time to time. Here are some of my favorites:

Vegan One Multiple by VegLife (vegan) [my current favorite]
pros: it has a good all around nutritional profile, one tablet, simple – just vitamins – no herbs or other ingredients
pro or con depending on your need: it is iron free

Solgar VM-75 by Solgar (vegetarian)
pros: there is an iron-free version and it is kosher for those who are on a kosher diet
cons: does require more than one capsule

Rainbow Light Multi for men and women by Rainbow Light (vegetarian)
pros: certified organic, includes digestive enzymes, contains 1000 IU’s of vitamin D
cons: four capsules to take

Rainbow Light Energizer One Multivitamin by Rainbow Light (vegan)
pros: one tablet, gluten free, includes digestive enzymes
cons: doesn’t have as much vitamin D (400 IU) as some

Vegetarian Support Multi by Country Life (vegan)
pros: vegan, kosher, and gluten free
cons: four capsules
other: contains iron (they do make iron free products however)

Raw One for (Women or Men) by Vitamin Code (vegan)
pros: raw, one capsule, includes probiotics, contains 1000 IU of vitamin D
cons: a bit more expensive than some other brands

Alive! Max Potency Multi by Nature’s Way (appears to be vegetarian by ingredient list but website does not specifically state it)
pros: digestive enzymes included, whole foods based
cons: three tables required