Monthly Archives: May 2014

This Week in Food, Health, and Fitness

This week, read why the 5k run is a great event, how you should distribute your protein intake, old and exciting exercise solutions, evidence for foam rolling, and more.

OttawaRaceWeekend5k10 Reasons the 5K is Freaking Awesome.  I ran the Ottawa Race Weekend 5km last weekend, and was reminded why I love this race distance so much. I can never figure out why so many runners think 5k’s are for non-serious runners and the longer distances are where it’s at. Lauren Fleshman echoes many of my thoughts in her informative and humorous article. (Runners World)

If you’re in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, Emily’s run June 21 is a fun & fast 5 km for women, and  you can test your 5k speed monthly (no charge!) at the 5k Ottawa run series.

Protein – why total amount isn’t key.  This is a good article and interview with protein researcher Doug Paddon-Jones, PhD, explaining why protein distribution throughout the day is key.  He recommends taking protein from your evening meal and adding it to breakfast. You’ll find more information on this new research and practical tips in an article I wrote here. (Karen Collins, Smart Bytes).

Old and Exciting Exercise Solutions. Michael J. Joyner, M.D. comments on this New York Times article (Fitness Crazed), emphasizing the importance of consistency, progression,  intensity, and how we complicate the simple. (Michael Joyner, Human Limits)

Got Credibility? Then You’re Not PETA.  PETA’s new campaign stating that milk causes autism is rightly criticized by many. (Jeffrey Kluger, Time Magazine)

Foam Rolling – does it work for speed and recovery? Nice review of the evidence behind foam rolling and practical applications.  (Carle Valle)

Not your ordinary Granny. Read about this 91-year old cancer survivor and marathon runner. (Runner’s World)

Lifestyle changes help breast cancer survivors. Studies carried out at Yale Cancer Center showed that healthier eating and regular exercise decreased biomarkers related to breast cancer recurrence and mortality. (American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2014).chocolate milk

Healthy or Hype? Chocolate Milk for Recovery. Find out if the hype behind chocolate milk is true. And this just in, looking at chocolate milk for recovery in swimmers.

Lemon Blueberry Cake. Delicious,and healthy – give it a try!

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Healthy or Hype? Chocolate Milk for Recovery

The Claim

Drinking chocolate milk after exercising will help you recover from your workout.

The Evidence

Chocolate milk contains fluid that you need after a workout, plus carbohydrates and protein in a ratio shown to enhance recovery (4 grams of carbohydrate for each gram of protein). The carbohydrates and added sugars in chocolate milk will help replenish glycogen (your body’s carbohydrate stores), and the protein in milk helps repair muscles.  Chocolate milk also contains sodium and potassium that can help replace electrolytes lost in sweat, as well as calcium, vitamin D, and B-vitamins (not necessarily important for recovery, but good for overall health!). Studies examining chocolate milk’s potential to promote recovery have shown that it outperforms commercial sports drinks or water, improving performance in subsequent intense workouts, and enhances muscle repair processes. Research has also shown that the main protein blend of milk (80% casein and 20% whey) is optimal for muscle repair and synthesis. Soy milk, which contains a different blend of protein, may not be as effective at repairing muscle.

Isn’t added sugar bad? For most people, added sugars and foods that raise blood sugar levels aren’t desirable, but after a strenuous workout simple sugars can help you recover more quickly by replenishing glycogen stores: so go ahead, and indulge your sweet tooth when it will have some benefit! You can drink regular milk, but you won’t get enough simple carbohydrates.

 Smoothie made with strawberries and bananasWhat about other foods? Chocolate milk is convenient, but it’s certainly possible to help your body recover with other foods, which might also help you meet other nutrient needs that are important for good health. For example, cereal with fruit and milk, yogurt and fruit, or a fruit smoothie would be good recovery foods. I have other ideas listed here. Following up your workout with a well-balanced meal that contains proteins and complex carbohydrates will also help you recover from your workouts.

Do you even need a recovery drink? If you have exercised for less than an hour at moderate intensity, you probably don’t need anything beyond water to “recover” from your workout: and if you don’t need the extra calories or sugar, it’s probably not what’s best for your overall health.  Athletes who are exercising more intensely, or who have another workout planned later in the day, can benefit from recovery beverages or foods.

Bottom Line

Chocolate milk consumed after a strenuous or long workout can help enhance recovery; other foods/beverages with a similar carbohydrate to protein ratio (4:1) will also likely work. For everyday nutrition (meals outside of training) regular milk is a better choice (since you don’t need the added sugars).


>>You can view other foods in the Healthy or Hype? series here

About the Healthy or Hype? series:

In this series, I’ll be looking at popular foods to see if they stand up to the hype or health claims behind them.

Media reports, company marketing efforts, and self-proclaimed experts can make interpreting nutrition and health news confusing. These outlets recognize that people are drawn to exceptional or miraculous stories that elicit an emotional response. Beyond stories and anecdotes, many “experts” are now citing studies (often out of context) to back up their claims, making it even more difficult to separate fact from fiction.

Finding out “what works” isn’t usually the result of a single study, but often years of research from various disciplines. It’s critical to synthesize all the scientific evidence to create a coherent picture. Good science is the best tool that we have to figure out how something is influencing our health.


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Lemon Blueberry Cake

This is one of my favourite cakes. It features lemons and blueberries, a terrific combination.  Incredibly rich-tasting and moist, this is much healthier than traditional lemon cakes. Greek yogurt replaces butter and sour cream – slashing calories and fat, while adding protein and calcium.  The glaze is optional, but does give the cake a tangy-lemony boost.


  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or trans-free margarine
  • 2 tablespoon grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons: zest the lemons, then set aside to juice them for the glaze)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (16-ounce) container plain Greek yogurt (I used 0% fat)
  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (unthawed)


  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Lightly grease 12-cup Bundt pan with butter or margarine.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk or fork to combine.
  3. In a large bowl, combine sugar, butter, lemon zest, and eggs. Beat with a mixer (or vigorously with a hand whisk or good spoon) until well blended.  Mix in vanilla and yogurt.
  4. Add flour mixture, and beat with a mixer or stir well until combined. Gently fold in blueberries.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes; remove from pan, and cool completely on wire rack.

GLAZE:  Whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice in small bowl or measuring cup. Drizzle over cooled cake, and top with lemon zest.

Makes 16 Slices

Cooking Tips and Notes

  • Zesting lemons can be quick and easy with the right tools: check out these tips.

blueberries and lemonsNutrition Notes

  • Greek yogurt is high in protein and a good source of calcium. I used 0%, but higher fat brands will work too (but the cake is already rich tasting – a higher fat brand will increase the calorie count).
  • Blueberries are  nutritional powerhouses: rich in Vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and protective phytochemicals.
  • Lemon zest contains a compound called d-limonene, which has been studied for its ability detoxify potential cancer-causing compounds.
  • You can lighten up the cake further by using egg whites in place of some of the eggs (about 1/4 cup egg whites for each egg you replace)

Nutrition Per Slice

  • 245 calories
  • 8 g protein
  • 4 g fat (2 g sat)
  • 57 mg cholesterol
  • 45 g carbohydrate
  • 2 g fiber
  • 25 g sugars
  • 215 mg sodium
  • 85 mg potassium
  • Iron: 7% Daily Value
  • Calcium: 16% Daily Value

More SWEET Recipes . . .

Flourless Chocolate Cake2 (640x396)Cakes

double chocolate energy bites bowl with textCookies, Bars and Workout Snacks

Fabulous Fruit Tart (640x427)Pies and Tarts

Pumpkin Spice Bread_Evan_smallQuick Breads


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This Week in Food, Health, and Fitness

This week, read about inactivity in kids, why sugar is not the enemy, how wearable tech is changing exercise research, why saturated fat matters, and more.

kids_videogamesPhysical Activity in Canadian Kids is Alarmingly Low. The 2014 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth was released this week. This year’s report looked at how Canadian youth compared to 14 other countries  and revealed that although Canada has a well-developed physical activity infrastructure and programs, Canadian kids are at the back of the global pack for overall physical activity levels.  Physical activity in youth is alarming low, with only 5% of 5- to 17-year-olds meeting the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines (being active for 60 minutes a day). New Zealand and Mozambique were the most active countries, with kids reporting 78 minutes/day of physical activity.

Although some blame parents, a solution likely lies in a combination of efforts at all levels – individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and public policy. More info:  Report Highlights;  Tips to increase your kids’ physical activity levels2014 Report Card on the Physical Activity of Children and Youth.

Is it the Electronics? On the same theme this week, Finnish researchers linked low levels of physical activity combined with heavy use of electronic media and sedentary behaviour to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and vascular diseases in 6- to 8-year-old children (yikes!). Another study in the journal noted significant correlations between parent and child screen time.  Time for kids (and adults) to get away from the screens and play. (International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, May 2014). 

sugarsSugar is Not the Enemy (especially for active people).  Most people eat too much added sugar, and recent guidelines highlight the health effects of this habit. Some wonder if this overemphasis on one nutrient is overshadowing the large problem of inactivity.  In fact, bodies that move are much better equipped to handle sugars: when diabetics exercise, they require less insulin to control their blood sugar; endurance athletes rely on sugar to fuel fast performances (here’s an example of the sugars a world record marathoner would ingest during an event). Although most of us aren’t running marathons (certainly not at that speed), exercise might mitigate the undesirable effects of sugar (David Despain, Outside Magazine).

Wearable tech is changing exercise research. Much of physical activity research has relied on questionnaires and self-report to monitor exercise.  A trend to using more objective measures (e.g., accelerometers) will certainly help provide better information and more accurate results (unfortunately, by necessity, most nutrition science still relies on self-report). (Live Science).

Saturated or not: Does type of fat matter?  Experts in the field are worried that recent media coverage sensationalizing results of a study on saturated fats could be detrimental to public health.  Check out this link to view the interpretation of a  panel of nutrition experts (Harvard School of Public Health).

Healthy or Hype? Coconut Oil.  Find out if coconut oil lives up to the health claims and hype in my new series.

Olive Oil Does Your Salad Good.  We are learning more and more about why nitrate-rich vegetables are good for us, and how they  might improve athletic performance.  This new study highlights benefits of the perfect culinary combo – olive oil and leafy greens! (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

Roasted Potato Salad with Vegetables.  Perfect for a weekend BBQ – nutritious, with plenty of flavor. (would be good with arugula->nitrate-rich veggie).

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