What To Eat, When...

What To Eat, When... The After Bar

Diet is the foundation of your health. We know to reach for a coffee when we need a caffeine pick-me-up or a smoothie if we’re feeling dehydrated but our nutritional needs become more nuanced when our conditions are more complicated than a single symptom. That sugar craving you’re experiencing may actually be a sign that you’re slightly deficient in magnesium or a clue that you’re not getting enough protein. Paying attention to our body’s cues can help us meet our nutritional needs and prevent us from mindlessly snacking while looking to fulfill a craving.

Foods that Support Lymphatic Drainage

Lymphatic drainage is essential to your immune system function. Lymph is a clear fluid that circulates through the body, filtering toxins and transporting white blood cells. Lymph flows upwards against gravity and can be inhibited by a high presence of toxins or a lack of movement. Signs of a suppressed lymphatic system include swollen hands and feet, digestive issues, and frequent colds. 

In addition to exercise and physical methods like massage or dry brushing, diet plays a vital role in improving and maintaining immune health. 

Herbs like goldenseal and echinacea can help reduce inflammation and promote circulation. Adaptogens are micronutrients in food that help the body respond to environmental stress. 

Similarly, ginger and dark leafy greens can boost circulation and overall health. Look for chlorophyll-rich greens like kale and wheatgrass or adaptogen supplements to keep your immune system flowing.

Muscle-building meals

We all know that protein is the key to muscle growth and maintenance. Food manufacturers are taking notice - you can find everything from ice cream to granola with an added boost of protein. While these convenience items are a quick fix and great on-the-go, many protein-enriched snacks are just junk food in disguise. 

Of course, protein should be the highest priority in any muscle-building diet but research shows that a killer physique isn’t built on protein powder alone. During a workout, your body dips into your muscle’s glycogen stores which makes your post workout meal vital to recovery and muscle growth. Carbs can also help with protein absorption and muscle repair. 

Choose a combination of protein and carbs for your post-workout fuel. Experts recommend a ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 carbs to protein after a tough workout to help maximize your time in the gym. Choose a mini-meal like whole grain toast with eggs or reach for a convenient protein bar to meet your nutritional needs when time is tight.

Beat the Bloat

Food is one of the last places you may look to when you’re dealing with bloating but there’s substantial evidence that certain nutrients can help relieve this uncomfortable condition. Bloating can occur for a variety of reasons, but some of the most common are constipation, eating gas-producing foods, and inflammation. Certain phases of the menstrual cycle can also cause bloating and water retention in some women.

Bloating caused by water retention can be alleviated by drinking more water. If elevated sodium levels are to blame, reaching for a potassium-rich food, like a banana, can help your body rebalance your sodium to potassium ratio. Water-rich foods like cucumbers and celery can also help you increase your hydration.

If your bloat is caused by gastrointestinal distress, papaya should be your go-to snack. This tropical powerhouse has fiber to help keep you regular, enzymes to help you digest proteins, plus vitamins and antioxidants to beat inflammation.

Crush Cravings

A late afternoon sugar craving isn’t always the result of a lack of willpower. Sometimes, sugar cravings can be a sign that your diet needs an overhaul. 

It may sounds counterintuitive, but reaching for a protein and fiber-rich snack may actually benefit you more than grabbing a sweet treat. The carbohydrates found in sweets tend to be fast-digesting which means your hunger will return in a few hours. Instead of choosing a sugary coffee or muffin, fulfill your sweet tooth and keep mid-morning hunger at bay with trail mix or low-sugar protein bar. These foods provide a dose of sweetness plus a healthy mix of fiber and protein.

While hormone fluctuations can be to blame for some comfort food cravings, consistent cravings can indicate an issue with insulin processing or other conditions. Pay attention to the timing of your sweets cravings to rule out other factors like exercise and meal-timing. 

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