Energy Gels: Good for you or just Goo?

16 Apr

What are Energy Gels?: They are carbohydrate gels that provide energy and promote recovery, usually in single serving plastic packets that are quick and easy to digest. It is a gooey substance, available in several different flavors, that is squeezed into the mouth for fast digestion.

How do they work?: The carbohydrates found in the gels are absorbed into the blood to supply the body with calories and nutrients to fuel the body and help delay muscular fatigue and enhance performance.

What are they made out of?: These gels are like a solid sports drinks. They don’t usually contain fat, fiber, or protien (for quick digestion). They’re mostly made of sugars and maltodextrins, and sometimes electrolytes, sodium, potassium, and caffeine.

When should they be consumed? :Energy gels are generally recommended 15 minutes before rigorous exercise and 30-45 minutes after starting. These can be substituted for a carbohydrate dense snack, but these gels are designed for convenience during exercise. How much they should be consumed during varies but to get the recommended 30-60 grams of carbohydrate an hour from energy gels requires a gel packet every 30-45 minutes for those in a marathon or other long and continuous activity.

The Problem: Eating a gel every 30-40 minutes during a four hour marathon would be 8 gels ny one food in excess isn’t very healthy.

The Verdict: It depends. If you choose to eat energy gels through out a marathon make sure you stay hydrated. While some runners swear by these gels other perfer to stick to water and sports drinks.


The Truth About Carbo Loading

15 Apr


photo courtesy of ex.libris

For all of you Boston Marathon participants (or admirers) we decided to look back at the history of carbo loading in all of its delicious glory. Cause who doesn’t want an excuse to eat mountainous heaps of pasta and gorge themselves on upper crust pizza?

The notion of carbo-loading has been around since the 1960s. Scandinavian researches discovered that when men ate a diet high in carbs over several days, the glycogen stores in their muscles skyrocketed. In layman’s terms- the subject’s endurance times were significantly extended.

Studies in the 1980s refined the original concept of carbohydrate loading to the idea we’re familiar with today: Three days prior to a competitive endurance event (lasting for 90 minutes or more) ease up on training regimens while simultaneously boosting carb intake. But don’t plan on binging on lasagna at 9 pm the night before the Boston Marathon. New studies show carbo loading less than 24 hours before the event decreases its effectiveness. Running 26 miles with a stomach full of half-digested mac and cheese? Not a great idea.

photo courtesy of shoothead

Does it really work? The answer is yes. Studies show that if you exercise at a steady pace, carbo loading will typically increase endurance by around 20%. So if you plan on running all 26. 22 miles of the Boston Marathon, carbo-loading can almost push you past the 20 mile mark. That means Heartbreak Hill. 

Dont forget, running a marathon doesn’t give you carte blance to eat junk food. So try and stick to whole grains for even more energy.

Restaurants That are Good for You and Your Wallet

11 Mar


Veggie Planet's Henry's Dinner Pizza and the Salad of the Week

Are you hungry? But you’re low on cash and in a hurry. Well here’s the good news- there are fast-food options all around boston that will keep your wallet fat and your derriere in shape!  Click HERE to view a slide show of all the restaurant we visited.

1. The OtherSide Cafe, 407 Newbury

St. Boston, MA

Want a quick lunch after a day of shopping on Newbury St.? The OtherSide Cafe offers healthy but filling foods that aren’t too pricey.  The menu runs the gamut from vegan BLT ($8.50) to the monsterous taco salad ($10.00).  There’s also a bountiful beer list to wash it all down.

2.  Veggie Planet, 47 Palmer St. Cambridge, MA

If you love pizza but hate the guilt, then you will fall head over heels for Veggie Planet. This small Harvard Square pizzeria serves up some of the best slices in the Boston area. All pizzas are served on whole-wheat bread and if you want to cut out even more calories then you can opt for your pie on rice. Therey serve up inspired combos like a Peanut Curry pizza, with coconut rice (even on pizza dough), broccoli and Thai peanut curry sauce topped with fried tofu croutons and peanuts (sm $6.85 lg $11.15). I tried Henry’s Dinner pizza and was not dissapointed. The pizza is topped with roasted butternit squash, caramelized onions, goat cheese and asiago cheese (sm $7.15 lg $11.35).    

3.  B. Good, 7 locations in the Boston Area

This local burger joint is popping up in every neighborhood in the Boston Area, and with good reason. B. Good serves up inexpensive, locally sourced burgers- fast. At B. Good you can get the traditional lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, but they also have more unique options. The Buffalo ($6.29) is smothered in Buffalo sauce and blue cheese and the El Guapo ($6.29)  features a spicy jalapeno ranch. Doesn’t sound healthy? You can switchout a beef in any burger for chicken, turkey, or a veggie patty.  If you want to go even further, you can exchange the bread for vegetables on any sandwich.



Eat Healthy with Nutritionist Laura Judd

25 Feb

Think you’re too busy to make time for food that’s delicious and nutritious? Think again. Boston University nutritionist/ dietitian Laura Judd  says even the most time deprived people can still squeeze in a healthful meal or snack.

She stresses the three  keys to staying healthy are, “timing and quality and quantity. A lot of times timing can help with quality and quantity a lot. So if you’re looking at your schedule, looking at the times that you can eat is the first step but also making time to eat is important.”

Don’t have time to make your own nutritious meals? Laura shared some of her favorite places to pick up a quick and healthy snack:

  1. Campus Convenience- “There’s  stuff in there that’s super easy to grab and go like if you need a snack. like one of the easiest things to do is grab a granola bar and yogurt bang the granola bar in front of the table a few times and all of the sudden its granola!”
  2. Starbucks- “oatmeal is one of the best snacks you can buy there. They make little cups of oatmeal and you can put nuts and dried fruit in them . Its gonna be lasting because it has protien and a good amount of carbohydrates in it.”
  3. Upper crust- “If you get whole wheat crust and vegetables on your pizza all of the sudden that’s better …little changes can make a big difference definitely!”

Wanna get the low-down on all of Laura’s tips for healthy-eating on the run? Click HERE to listen to the full interview.

Here’s quick recipe that any stressed out Bostonian can enjoy- a delicious egg scramble!

Laura Judd’s Oh-So-Simple Scramble:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • shredded cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. combine the eggs and the milk at first and whip it together
  2. Throw it in a microwave safe bowl, microwave the eggs and milk on high for 45 seconds
  3. then stir it up and microwave it again for another 45 seconds
  4. throw some cheese on top with some salt and pepper, it would be easy to put on an English muffin or  a whole wheat tortilla to make it extra-filling

*to make Laura’s scramble even healthier substitute eggs for egg-beater and use low-fat cheese

If you’re a BU student you can schedule a one-on-one meeting with a nutritionist like Laura- for free!