Finals Week Survival Guide

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No sleep, caffeine overload, sweats and flip-flops. It’s that time of the quarter again.

Even though in a week we’ll be enjoying the sweet taste of summer vacation and, for some of us, graduation, there’s one last hurdle we all have to get over. You probably guessed it, the daunting week of finals! Many of us associate Finals Week with eating fast food and down energy drinks. Let’s take a step back, though, to see how food choices can affect how well we study.

Caffeine

During Finals Week we all need that boost of energy while we study, but it’s important to realize not all caffeinated drinks are created equal. Instead of grabbing an energy drink, which contains sugar and empty calories, try drinking Matcha green tea or brewed coffee instead. These beverages don’t have a lot of sugar and empty calories plus they may offer natural health benefits.  Keep in mind that 200-300 mg of caffeine is considered a healthy, moderate level.

Monster

  • 92mg caffeine per 8 fl oz
  • 100 calories per serving
  • 27g sugar per serving

Matcha Green Tea

  • 70mg caffeine in 8 fl oz
  • 12 calories in 1 tsp
    • Caffeine released into the body continuously over 6-8 hours
    • Slow release of caffeine prevents jitters and caffeine crash
    • Contains antioxidants and calming properties

Coffee

  • 108 mg caffeine in 8 fl oz
  • 2 calories per cup
  • Shown to decrease risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s, and type 2 diabetes
  • Contains antioxidants

Broccoli

Our bodies convert food into fuel for energy by using folic acid, which is found in broccoli. Folic acid also prevents that feeling of sluggishness. As a quick side to your meal, drizzle olive oil over broccoli florets, season with salt and pepper, and roast at 425 degrees F for 15-18 minutes. By roasting broccoli on non-stick foil, you can study while it’s in the oven and the foil makes for easy clean up. It’s delicious!

Other sources of folic acid:

  • Black beans
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Beets

Trail Mix

Try trail mix instead of chips. You can easily make it by combining your favorite dried fruits, nuts, and even chocolate chips! Nuts, such as almonds and cashews, can help you feel energized while you are studying. They are high in magnesium, which produces and transports energy in the body.

Dark Chocolate

Sometimes when you’re stressed, all you need is a piece of chocolate. The good news? Dark chocolate has been shown to lower stress hormones in highly stressed individuals. Also chocolate has a number of antioxidants that are beneficial to our bodies.

Tuna

Canned tuna is a great option because it’s inexpensive and can be used for a quick sandwich. Tuna contains 20g of protein in a 3 oz serving, which help you feel full longer. Also, it has high levels of vitamin E and K, potassium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain memory and performance.

Food Trends

foodtrendv2“Gatorade? Pass. Lay’s Sour Cream and Onion? Next.”

“I’ll have the coconut water with a side of kale chips, please.”

Have you noticed the shift of popular foods that has been sweeping through magazines, organic grocery stores, and devoted foodies? Of all the trendy foods that are on the shelves, I’ll admit that it’s hard to decide which one is worth the hype. I’ve compiled a list of myths and facts for the latest food trends to help you decide.

Coconut

Myth: Coconut water is better than water during and after a workout

Fact: Coconut water has been glorified as nature’s sports drink because of the amount of electrolytes it contains. However, for most individuals consuming well-balanced meals throughout the day, water can hydrate them just as well as coconut water does. Also, coconut water contains high amounts of potassium, but after a long high intensity workout what your body really needs is sodium.

Tea

Myth: Drinking green tea will cause weight loss

Fact: Although green tea temporarily boosts metabolism slightly, it’s not enough to cause weight loss. Tea is still beneficial to the body in other ways with its ability to:

  • reduce blood pressure
  • lower cholesterol
  • decrease risk of heart attack
  • promote eye health by reducing risk of cataracts

Grains

Myth: Grains are bad for you because they contain gluten

Fact: Gluten is a protein found in the grains wheat, barley, rye and oats. Individuals with celiac disease will experience intestinal damage and discomfort when they consume gluten. However, for individuals without celiac disease, gluten is safe to eat and there’s no proven benefit of eating a gluten-free diet. Most grains are actually good for you, such as:

  • brown rice
  • wild rice
  • barley
  • oats
  • whole grain pasta and bread

Remember to look for 100% whole grain products

Sustainable and Local Products

Myth: Eating sustainable and local is too difficult

Fact: Sustainable farming results in nutritious food that supports farmers and local businesses that will help the economy.

What does it mean to eat locally?

  • Food is produced locally rather than nationally or internationally
  • Food is grown close to your home and distributed in short distances.

What is sustainable food?

Raising food that is

  • healthy for consumers and animals
  • doesn’t harm the environment
  • humane for workers

You can make easy changes by going to the Davis Farmer’s Market and purchasing products that are grown and made locally.

Asian Fusion

Myth: Chinese food is bad for you

Fact: Many people believe that Chinese food is nutritionally bad for you because of high levels of sodium and oil in the food. Although Chinese food is known for containing MSG, a salt added to enhance the flavor of food, you can ask for food without MSG! Also, ask for your food to be cooked with less oil to reduce the calories. There are many healthy options you can try, such as varieties of Asian vegetables and lean protein such as tofu, shrimp, and chicken. When you want to add Asian flavor to your dishes at home, try using ginger, garlic, green onion, or low sodium soy sauce, all of which add flavor without calories.

Alternate forms of protein

Myth: I need to eat meat to get enough protein in my diet

Fact: There are plenty of vegetarian or vegan sources of protein, such as nuts, grains, tofu, beans, eggs, and dairy products (low fat yogurt and milk)

It’s important to consume foods with amino acids that your body can’t make. These foods are considered “complete protein” sources. Combinations of vegetable foods creating complete proteins include:

  • corn and beans
  • brown rice and split peas
  • avocado, sprouts & almond butter on whole wheat bread
  • tofu

Smaller portion sizes

Myth: The Freshmen 15 happens to everyone

Fact: Weight gain can be easily avoided by being aware of the portion size you’re eating inside the dining commons. Try to grab one plate at a time and enjoy the food while you’re eating it. Here are some other tips for controlling portion size:

  • use smaller bowls, plates, and cups
  • when you eat out only eat half or split the meal with a friend

What are the correct portion sizes?

  • a teaspoon of margarine is the size of one dice
  • three ounces of meat is the size of a deck of cards
  • one cup of pasta is the size of a baseball
  • an ounce and a half of cheese is the size of four stacked dice
  • one-half cup of fresh fruit is the size of a tennis ball 

Staying Hydrated

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I have a secret for you.

For as long as I can remember, people have been looking for the magic food that can either improve their workout performance, help them lose weight, give them clear skin, or in the best case scenario, all of the above. Oh and it has to be inexpensive too. Well, what if I told you the search is over.

What is this magical thing I speak of? It’s water! Although it may not be a cure-all, it’s pretty close with all of its great benefits (and fits into the college student’s budget because it’s free). Water is important to our bodies and here’s why.

Why is water important?
Our body weight is 75% water! It plays amazingly diverse roles in our bodies. One of the most necessary functions water performs is bringing oxygen and nutrients to cells and taking waste away

Benefits
1. Weight loss:  Substituting sweetened beverages with water is a simple way to reduce the amount of empty calories in a person’s diet. Drinking water also helps you feel fuller, which prevents overeating.
2. Feeling energized: Dehydration will result in feeling sluggish and tired.  Combat this by drinking water to wake yourself up!
3. Enhancing performance: During exercise you lose water primarily through sweat. Drink adequate amounts of water can prevent dizziness, muscle cramps, and fatigue.
4. Gastrointestinal health: Water helps food flow through the intestine and can help alleviate constipation.

How much water do I need?
It is recommended for a total daily beverage intake of 13 cups for men and 9 cups for women. Keep in mind that there’s no exact formula so the amount you need changes depending on exercise, temperature, and food intake.  You also don’t need to drink this full amount of water because a lot of foods contain a high percentage of water.

Foods that have hidden sources of water:

  • Broccoli is 89% water and it is loaded with B vitamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and lots of fiber to help you feel full.
  • Crisp lettuce is 96% water and a great source of potassium and folate. With the temperatures rising, a hearty salad will not only be tasty but refreshing as well.
  • Watermelon is 91% water and a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and lycopene, which has been shown to prevent cancer.
  • Low fat milk is 89% water and is high in vitamin D, phosphorus, potassium, and it can add protein to your diet. Grab some low fat chocolate milk as an easy post- workout treat.
  • Apples are 84% water and is high in fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, among many other vitamins and minerals. It’s a portable snack that you can throw in your backpack and enjoy while you’re on the go.

Also, you can sip water throughout the day by bringing a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go! You can conveniently fill it up at any hydration stations located on campus.

Water Bottle Graphic

Now that you know the secret about water, share it with those around you!

Food for Fuel

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It’s one of those days. One of those days when I’m running on CoHo coffee and four hours of sleep. I have midterms to study for, papers to write, yet I’ve miraculously put on my running shoes for a much needed work out.

I pop in my Insanity DVD and feel great as I begin to start my warm up with a slow jog and leisure jumping jacks. Midway through my workout, I start regretting my decision to not eat anything before starting the video. As I hear Shaun T yelling at me to “dig deeeeeeper”, my arms feel like they’re going to give out. Why is it so hard for me to do a sit up? Have my legs always been this heavy?

If you’re like me, sometimes we overlook the importance of fueling our brains and bodies before exercising. We jump from one activity to the next, without realizing what a difference our performance would be if we grabbed something quick and simple to eat.

Here’s a quick guide on how to properly fuel before a workout:

What should I look for?

No matter what time of day you’re planning on exercising, there are some key points to keep in my mind when you’re fueling your brain and body for a work out.

  • Eat primarily carbohydrates. This is your body’s main source of energy while working out!
  • Aim to keep the amount of protein to be 12 grams or less
  • Limit the amount of fat in your meal. Fat takes your body more time to digest so eating a high fat meal can leave your stomach feeling uncomfortable during exercise.
  • Stay hydrated! Drinking simply 6 oz of fluid an hour before your workout can help you avoid feeling dehydrated, dizzy, and tired.

Leave adequate time for your body to digest. Generally, the longer you have until your work out, the more you can eat. This is because you’re giving your body a longer period of time to digest so you won’t need to worry about having an upset stomach while exercising. If you’re going to eat a larger meal, try to wait 2-3 hours before working out.

What are some examples?

Morning workout

  • Oatmeal with blueberries and a dollop of greek yogurt
  • Banana with half a whole wheat bagel
  • Hard-boiled egg with a piece of whole wheat toast
  • An apple with two tablespoons of peanut butter
  • For the light eater, try 1/2 banana or 1/2 cup of cranberry juice

Afternoon workout

  • A 200-300 calorie smoothie. This can be a great way to sneak in veggies too!
  • An energy bar that has 12 or less grams of protein
  • Toast topped with almond butter and half a banana sliced
  • A handful of nuts or dried fruit

Evening workout

  • A sandwich with whole grain bread, turkey, and vegetables. Eat it with a glass of skim milk.
  • A wrap made with whole wheat tortilla, hummus, cucumbers, and tomatoes
  • 6 oz. chicken breast with a side of broccoli

Ultimately, you need to find what works for you. When you do, you’ll feel more energized and get the most out of your workout!

Helpful Resources
http://www.acsm.org/access-public-information/search-by-topic
http://www.gssiweb.org/