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Nutrition

Why You Should Be Doing It and How to Get Started

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These days, strategies for meal preparation are seemingly everywhere! Endearingly known as meal prep (or #mealprep if you’re so inclined), the concept of preparing your food in advance has taken hold in the fitness industry, and it offers so many benefits that we hope it’s here to stay!

Not only can preparing your meals ahead of time helps you save time and money throughout your week, but it can also help you achieve your fitness goals.

Meal Prep Can Help 

Balance your diet.

We all remember the importance of the food pyramid, balanced diets and (of course) eating your veggies, but how many decisions about what you eat actually follow this advice?

If you’re making a lot of in-the-moment choices about what you’re eating, probably not many. With meal prep you determine the menu beforehand, meaning you can craft the perfect protein/veggie/whole grain medley to reach all of your fitness goals.

Cut down on “impulse foods.”

Making decisions about what you eat meal-by-meal provides many chances to make unhealthy choices…and when your stomach is growling and you’re getting hanger-induced road rage on the evening commute, who wouldn’t choose pizza?

Everyone who hasn’t meal-prepped, that’s who! Knowing you have a healthy, delicious meal waiting for you at home will keep you from making those unhealthy pit stops and keep your diet on track.

Improve your portion control.

The assortment of cute containers are good for more than just a #mealprep Instagram post! Because your food is pre-divided into the perfect portions, you’re not even giving yourself a chance to overeat. If you tend to graze or snack on whatever food that’s in front of you, dividing food up into the proper portions ahead of time will help you kick that habit.

Reduce your stress.

There’s a lot of evidence that points to stress being a contributing factor in weight gain, in part by increasing the hormones that signal us to overeat. Deciding on what to eat last minute can be stressful, which in turn produces hormones that make you more likely to choose unhealthy foods—basically, this is a situation that’s setting you up to fail. By having your meals pre-planned, you’re reducing your stress hormones (which helps with weight management) and making better choices (which also helps with weight management). That’s what we call a win-win!

How to Get Started

Plan your meals in advance.

If you intend to meal prep, don’t go to the grocery store without a plan! There’s nothing worse than getting home from the store with a load of groceries that don’t work together. Cut down on food waste and save money by planning out your meals and only buying ingredients that will be used for the week.

Make sure you have space for your prepped food.

Before you go on your meal prep adventure, make sure to do a refrigerator clear-out beforehand. Meal prepping is fantastic, but you’ll notice quite a bit of your refrigerator real estate will be claimed by your future breakfast, lunch and dinners.

Start simple.

Don’t dive headfirst into meal prepping with difficult or time consuming recipes. Stick to the basics and try prepping a week’s worth of protein, grains and veggies. You need to walk before you run straight into a meal prep meltdown.

Dedicate time to prepping.

Meal prepping simply can’t be done at the 11th hour. You will drive yourself crazy trying to fit a week’s worth of cooking into an hour before bed on a Sunday night. Make time for shopping and prepping and take it easy. You’ll thank us later!

If you need help or advice on reaching your fitness goals, Anytime Fitness is here to help! Find your gym and get to a healthier you today!

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Health

Are Pre-Workout Supplements a Must-Have or Just a Fitness Fad?

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You may think pre-workout is a relatively new trend, but you’d be surprised to find out athletes have been using supplements in some way, shape or form to enhance their workouts throughout history. While pre-workout has been popularized by career athletes, it can be a beneficial addition into your workout routine by kickstarting your energy levels. Don’t believe us? Read on and find out more about how pre-workout works and remember to talk to your physician before using dietary supplements. 

What Is Pre-Workout? 

Pre-workout is defined as any meal, snack or supplement consumed before working out to help energize and maximize your efforts. However, the pre-workout we’re dishing on is the supplemental variety. Pre-workout supplements are meant to enhance your workouts, but how do they work? For starters, many pre-workout options are formulated with caffeine. Caffeine, a stimulant, energizes by activating beta-endorphins in order to increase your alertness and your energy. That burst of energy comes in handy during a strenuous workout. While caffeine is used in some pre-workout varieties—it’s not found in all of them. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, there are plenty of other options. Some brands use an additive called beta-alanine which helps slow down muscle fatigue so you can push harder, longer during your workout. Some additional popular ingredients found in pre-workout are creatine, taurine and L-arginine.

When Should I Use Pre-Workout? 

The first thing you need to do if you’re interested in incorporating a pre-workout into your fitness journey is speak with your physician. A doctor should always be consulted before using dietary supplements and pre-workout supplements are no different! When you get the all-clear to use pre-workout, plan on taking it roughly 30 minutes prior to your workout. The pre-workout needs enough time to digest into your system and help energize your exercise sesh. 

How Do I Know If Pre-Workout Is Working? 

In short, you’ll know. That sudden burst of energy? It’s the pre-workout! You’ll also notice that your body isn’t as fatigued as it typically might be during your workout. 

Is Pre-Workout Worth the Hype? 

It’s a common question people ask when considering using pre-workouts, with good reason. With pre-workout, there’s often more caffeine in the formula than recommended for daily consumption. Some pre-workout supplements contain as much caffeine as the equivalent to FOUR cups of coffee in just one serving and many others contain caffeine levels that could present health problems. 

The occasional use of pre-workout can help with performance inside the gym. If you find yourself needing a boost or need to work out later or earlier than usual—it could be worth trying. However, it’s important to ask yourself why you’re feeling fatigued or looking for a boost. Do you need more sleep? Are you drinking enough water throughout the day? Are there more natural ways to boost your energy?  Pre-workout can be a great way to super-charge your time in the gym, but they aren’t your best bet for everyday use.  

Do you use pre-workout? Sound off in the comments and tell us your experience! 

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Fruits

9 Healthy Summer Recipes to Please a Big Crowd

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When you’re hosting a group or attending an event where you’re asked to help feed the masses, it can be tricky to know what to make. You also don’t want to monopolize your own precious time hiding in the kitchen! Use these quick and easy healthy summer recipes to please the crowds and even get them eating well.

1. Watermelon Salad

watermelon salad

Five ingredients, featuring watermelon and avocado, make this recipe simple, refreshing, and quick. Only risk: Keep the salad chilled and serve immediately. Avocado doesn’t have a long shelf life—especially in the sun.


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2. Spinach Parmesan Cheeseball

spinach parmesan cheeseball

There are some special ingredient swaps in this tasty dip that make the cheeseball better than the average dairy indulgence—and your guests won’t be the wiser! Just remember to keep it cold, to mold, before serving. And include some healthier serving options, like cucumber and whole grain crackers.


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3. Simple Citrus Salad

Simple Citrus Salad

Grapefruit and oranges are the star of this colorful, flavorful show, which is all topped off with a beautiful vinaigrette featuring honey and lemon juice. Toss some fresh thyme over it all and you’re good to go!


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4. Strawberry Shortcake

StrawberryShortcake1

You heard us right: cake! There’s room for celebration and a little sugar in every healthy diet, but if you’re going to indulge, you might as well be smart about it. This recipe features controlled servings (if you stop at one cupcake!) and smart ingredient swaps to take down the sugar levels.


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5. Peach Granita

Peach Granita

Granita is another great route to go for a summer-time treat, especially in place of high-calorie ice cream. This recipe features peach, but if you’d prefer another fruit, go for it. All you need is the fruit, honey, and whole milk—plus time to freeze (and fork) it well.


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6. Greek Veggie Pasta Salad

greek-salad-recipe-main

There are quite a few ingredients in this recipe, but the best part about it is you simply toss everything together and serve! And you can still enjoy it if you’re missing an item, or toss in other veggies to supplement. Try to include the chickpeas no matter what, though, because it’s a great punch of plant-based protein.


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7. Summer Melon Salad

Melon Salad

There’s a tool for every job, and another tool just to make things look pretty! Sure, you can cube up the watermelon and cantaloupe like you normally might, but if you want to take it up a notch, use a melon-baller. Don’t forget the lemon zest, either way. It will add more brightest and contrast to your sweet side.


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8. Healthy Beverages

Flavored Fruit Water

Ok, this is four recipes in one. But liquids are essential during sweltering weather, and water just isn’t very fun day-in-day-out. So get infusing, or try one of our mocktails to keep your group hydrated.


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9. Grilled Shrimp Salad

Grilled Shrimp Salad

You need protein to keep active! Grilling up a bunch of shrimp or chicken kebabs with veggies is a great way to liven up a typical summer salad. Make your own vinaigrette (details included) to decrease total calories.


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Food

How to Cut a Pineapple the Correct Way

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Cutting up a whole pineapple can feel like a daunting task. Its prickly exterior seems to ward off invaders of its delightfully sweet insides. It is not, however, as difficult a task as it seems. Although there is no miracle “quick” way to free the bright yellow fruit from its bristly skin, here are the steps for making it a less discouraging experience.

Pineapple 101

Start with a ripe pineapple. Ripe will be easier to cut. How do you know?

  • Smell the butt. Bad advice in the context or humans and animals, however in the case of pineapples, this is the first tell-tale sign to determine sweetness. If the bottom of the pineapple smells sweet, it is ripe. If there is no odor, it is not ready. If the smell is fermented or vinegary, that’s bad news, because it’s over ripe.
  • Watch for color. The best pineapples have a yellow or golden color. The higher the yellow rises from the bottom to the top, the more sweetness it will have. (Note: Once harvested, pineapples don’t continue to ripen.)
  • Pluck a leaf. If you can easily pull out one of the center leaves at the top, it is ripe.

Another tip: Use a sharp serrated knife. Pineapple is fairly fibrous as well as juicy, so it can be slippery. A serrated blade makes your job of cutting easier. And don’t worry about getting every little piece of the pineapple’s “eyes” (brown spots) cut off. It may be more esthetically pleasing to have them removed, but personally, we don’t believe it’s worth the effort to remove them all—and they won’t hurt you. (Neither will the core; it actually has some great health benefits, but can be very woody, so you may want to cut it off.)

Getting the Job Done

Directions:

  1. Trim off the top. Be generous with your slice; the top of the pineapple can be woody and fibrous.
  2. Trim off the bottom. Again, be generous.
  3. Trim the sides. Stand the pineapple on its end and slide down the sides in a slightly curved motion, following the curve of the fruit. Work your way around taking off just enough so there is no dark green or brown skin remaining.
  4. Split lengthwise. Keep the pineapple standing on its end and split each half lengthwise again into quarters.
  5. Trim the core. Like the top and bottom, the core can be very woody so it’s best to remove it. Stand the pineapple quarter on end and use the knife to feel where the fibers start to “give” more.
  6. Slice quarters up into desired size/shape pieces and serve!

 

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