Archive for March, 2010

Eat Your Veggies (or Drink them?)

March 19, 2010

I just found the secret to getting the recommended servings of vegetables each day. Not just what to eat but how to eat it. (I am supposed to eat 3.5 cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruit a day according to the

Green Smoothies are all the rage nowadays. What better way to get all that you need in one quick dose? Now of course there are people out there that are going to say that comment shows how ignorant I really am. These smoothies are drunk by these people because they taste good. Yeah right! Now I am not saying that brainwashing yourself is a bad thing, but look at it this way, we are trying to get those that think I am a nut for considering it to actually try one. Anything to make it easier to eat your veggies I am all for.

So the how to get your veggies is easy, stuff them in a good blender with some liquid and puree. You can fit a whole 3.5 cup portion of a green leafy mix into the blender and get it down to about a 24 oz drink I think. If you can be brave for the 10 seconds it takes to down the beast you can mix it with water and drink something like 40 calories. Now it won’t taste good, but there are ways to work on that. Find a good recipe. Personally I am going to try and use nonfat milk to add protein in there and then a sweet fruit of some sort to bump it up to 200 calories but make it have a chance at tasting good.

When to drink the nasty beast? If you are working out regularly, drink that sucker as your recovery drink. You might want to add more fruit like say a banana and make sure the total calories comes to something like 300 if you worked out for an honest hour. It would be best if it was about 60 calories of protein and 240 calories of carbohydrates. You can even dump the whey isolate powder in there if you are worried about the speed it gets into your blood stream. Better if you just have it sitting there to start sipping as you are doing the last steps of your cool down, or starting on it the second you are done if you can’t take it along. None of the showering and lounging around before you head off to make it is what I am getting at.

Don’t take my word for it either. I found a few links for you to explore.

First is a great podcast/blog called Zen and the Art of Triathlon and a link to his post on how to make the green smoothie. I listened to his podcasts and he sort of records while he is doing other things. One of the things that made it to his podcast, besides being nekkid in bed with his wife wearing bicycle helmets for protection, was that he drinks green smoothies with something called spirulina in them. I bought some and made one solely because of his podcast.

Second is a blog entry that talked about these vile green smoothies as if they were the height of delicious eating. OK not really, but they do seem to like them quite a bit over there. They give you tips about how to make them so that you don’t revolt from the first one and never come back. Here is my tip on that front, don’t add 2 tablespoons of spirulina to your first one like I did (Thanks coach Brett for making me think this was a good idea). Spirulina is an algae that is very good for you and hence tastes like crap and smells a bit fishy and pond-like.

In fact here is a story about my first green smoothie I hope you will enjoy.

I made the smoothie last night before a long morning workout and there was too much for the container by about a quarter cup so I figured I’d taste it. Yuk! It smelled a bit fishy, and the spinach made it earthy while the grapes must not have been ripe, because there was no sweetness in that puppy. I added 3 packets of Truvia (stevia) hoping that was enough but not bold enough to taste it again to find out. I probably could have used another 1 or 2 more. The greenness that collected in my mouth and on my teeth was disgusting. I had to chase it with a few rinses of water and boy was I glad I just bought a new kitchen aid blender for the task, my old pile of junk would have left spinach threads and leafy bits in there that surely would have made me hurl.

I got to bed at about 10:15 and was getting up by 4:30. I had bad dreams about that smoothie. I envisioned myself gulping it down to get through it fast after my workout on my way through the parking lot. I was walking between a couple of cars as I downed the last bit and then the taste hit me. I lost it. The whole mess came up and hit the side of this little red car about roof level on the back driver side window. It basically oozed itself down the side of the car about the whole width of the back door, and that spirulina was so green even a thin coat was enough to get a deep lovely green. I emptied my water bottle on the thing in one big swoosh but it just hit the middle and had trouble washing much off. I tried to squeegee it down with my hand but then looking at the threads of green colored stomach acids mixed up with that vile smoothie stretching from the car to my hand as I pulled it away for another swoop had me gagging and I almost choked up the few last bits. Instead of cleaning more I made it to my car, got $10 out of my wallet and wrote a little note that said I was sorry, but here’s the money for a car wash and a latte while you wait. I also added not to worry because I will never drink another green smoothie in case they thought it was something malicious.

The real test that came this morning was not nearly as exciting. I drank it and it didn’t taste nearly as bad as I was thinking. Being a bit hungry after a long workout (3600 yard swim 5.25 miles on the elliptical) makes one less finicky I guess. I will need to work on it though. My first thoughts are to use less spirulina at least until I get used to it, then try something besides spinach which tasted a bit like dirt. Lastly I think I will use nonfat milk and a banana and a sweeter fruit than those sour grapes I found.

I left my wife a bottle of the stuff too, and I told her that I had killed an alien and ground up his brains in the smoothie. I had a yellow shirt on and the powdery spirulina got all over me so it seems like the story matched what I looked like. We shall see if she drinks more than a sip. [EDIT: This just in, she hated it]

All I can really conclude is that it is wonderful to get so much nutrition from so few calories. And although I do get all my fruits and veggies in a decent percent of the time, recently anyway, this will sure make it easy to do so more often. Especially once I get myself brainwashed into thinking it tastes good.

[EDIT:Thanks to coach Brett from Zen and the Art of Triathlon for your comment. I will be looking to add more fruit for my next smoothie]


Most Popular Posts

March 18, 2010

My 101st Post!

I made it to 100 posts. I thought I would post a list of my most popular searched on entries.  There are 14 that got more than 200 views from specific searches. 

  1. Basal Metabolic Rate and METS – Biggest Loser Theory – 1805
  2. South Beach Diet: – 1391 (4 posts)
    1. Phase 1 Example Meals – 629
    2. Science of Carbs – 306
    3. I’m melting – 242
    4. Chocolate milk substitute – 214
  3. Swimming – 938 (2 posts)
    1. Proper technique – 566
    2. Balance – 372
  4. NutraSweet vs. Splenda – 629
  5. Treadmill vs. The Road – 417
  6. Post exercise recovery drink – 355
  7. Lactate threshold: how to improve – 319
  8. Fiber: Soluble or Insoluble – 267
  9. Slow Fat Triathlete (Good Book) – 259
  10. Working out to lose Fat: EPOC – 238

Long Runs and Heart Rate Training

March 16, 2010

I did a little research this week and thought I would share what I found about using your heart rate as a training tool.

I got in a long run of 6.65 miles on Sunday. I did it at a slow pace of 10:50 per mile average. I was shooting for 11 minute miles thinking that would allow me to keep my heart rate lower than usual around 140 bpm to start out. I know I was on exactly 11:00 miles at 3.1 miles, so I actually ran a negative split of about 17 seconds per mile pace the rest of the way and it included a slight uphill section about a half mile long. I was worried a little about having sore legs Monday and even today, but then I read a post a coach wrote about sore legs and it made me feel better:

I just got so used to running all out last year as I did most of my running at lunch in a group that was faster. It is hard for me to run at this lower heart rate because I feel so good I have the urge to speed up. I must have glanced down at least 10 times during the run where I saw my hear rate in the 150’s and forced myself to slow down. Since I didn’t have anything to drink my heart rate naturally drifted up. That is the one thing about heart rate training that has always bothered me a bit since I didn’t know why. Recently though I read an article that explained why. It was in a magazine that I cannot recall. I found a few articles online that also explain the various things that affect your heart rate as you work out. So when you use heart rate as a tool for training you need to know these things so you know why it might be acting differently.

  • Cardiac drift: Heart rate goes up because sweat mainly comes from the fluid in your blood so the decreased volume of blood means your heart has to beat faster. (fifth item in the article: )
  • Heart rate goes up as your body temperature increases, which happens during exercise. 
  •  Heart rate goes up as ambient temperature and humidity increase so you will have a higher rate on a hotter or more humid day even if you do the same workout. This and the last item are obviously tied together and are described on the link as above.
  • Another item that is something to watch once you use heart rate monitoring for a while is that when you get sick your heart rate increases. So if you get in the habit of checking your resting heart rate in the morning before getting up and notice it’s higher than normal it might be a sign your body is working on something. Maybe you sleepwalked at 3 am to get a PB&J or maybe you are getting sick, maybe you woke up dehydrated, or maybe you are training so hard that you did not recover overnight. You cannot measure this a few times and get a clue. You will need to keep a watch out over time.
  • Another thing to note about heart rate is that your resting heart rate will decrease as you get more fit. Mine went from around 60 to about 45 so far. Also the recovery of heart rate to normal levels after working out happens faster as you become fitter for the same length and intensity of exercise.

For more info on training in heart rate zones try this link:  

I have decided that I trained to intense all the time while running last year, so I will be doing a lot more less intense stuff. I am starting a little later than I should be as this is what is considered base training, but I will just not run the races too intense and get a worse time than last year but then enjoy the rest of the year without the same injury.