Loving the BITE: Junk Food Anti-Venom

01
Nov
2012

What’s the opposite of candy overload?  In a word, celery.  It’s the anti-junk food.  In fact, spend a day eating celery (in addition to other whole healthy foods), and you’ll tend to feel less bloated, lighter, and healthier.  With its gentle diuretic effects, celery can get the bloat off that’s often caused by too much sodium and too much sugar.  You can feel lighter and stronger on your bike.  If you’ve eaten a bit too much candy this week, try our delicious Junk Food Anti-Venom Celery Smoothie, and get back on track.

Recipe of the Week:  Celery Vegetable Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Spinach or Greens
  • 1 small apple, cored
  • 1 stalk celery, including leaves
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh berries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • ice

Instructions:

Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth.  Add water and ice as needed for desired consistency.  Serve at once and enjoy.

Comments:

Feeling stuffed?  If you’ve eaten too much junk food over the past day or week, you may be feeling the compounding effects of added weight and water retention.  In fact, both sugar and sodium can cause you to retain extra fluids.  These effects are well-known with sodium. With sugar, it’s more indirect, but every bit as potent.

When you eat sugar, it’s quickly digested.  It is broken down in the mouth, stomach, and intestines, absorbed and delivered to the liver, and sent out to the body as blood sugar.  Sugar in your blood is harmful (it hardens arteries).  So, your body must get it out of your bloodstream and into your cells for storage, where it’s less destructive in the short-term.  To accomplish this, your pancreas sends out insulin, a hormone that acts like a “key” and open up the cells so sugar can enter.

Unfortunately, insulin has a lot of negative effects as well, but it’s the lesser of the two evils when your body has to deal with rising blood sugars in the vessels.  Insulin promotes fat storage.  It also promotes water retention.

For cyclists, hydration’s important.  However, water retention from an everyday diet too high sodium or sugar off the bike causes bloating and swelling of the tissues (remember, our bodies act differently and can use sodium and fast carbs when actively training and sweating).  This fluid is not readily available or beneficial to fend off dehydration, and should not be confused with adequate hydration.  In fact, rather than being energizing to an athlete, bloated tissues only weigh you down and slow your ride.

Celery, our anti-junk food can help remove the extra water.  It has a gentle diuretic effect which quickly normalizes fluids without leaving your dehydrated.  If you feel overloaded, eating extra “clean” for a day and including foods like celery can help you break the sugar cycle and get you back on track for healthy eating.  Additionally, celery:

  • Is rich in Vitamin C, which promote good immune function and works as an antioxidant to reduce oxidative stress
  • Reduces blood pressure by reducing stress hormones and relaxing arteries to make them more elastic
  • Lowers cholesterol by increasing bile production which binds cholesterol in the gut and promotes excretion out of the body

Of course, it’s better to avoid overloading on sodium or sugar in the first place.  But, it happens.  And it was Halloween after all.  Before you let the cycle of Holiday over-indulgence get you, stop it in its tracks.  Dedicate a day to clean eating with refreshing vegetables like celery, get out on the bike, and you’ll feel good as new.

Fuel Your Ride.  Nourish Your Body.

Enjoy Your Ride

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  • Andrea

    I have seen a stalk described as one stick and as a full bunch. Which way are you using it in this recipe?

  • IWearSpandex

    Kelli, this is a great one. Tasted better than I expected. It’s easy because most of the ingredients are in the house, for us anyway. But I am terrible at eating veggies, so this works really well for me. So easy to make a smoothie with it and get in my veggies. Thanks very much for the recipe.
    By the way, I enjoy it so much that I’m doing my best to share it with others.

    • http://twitter.com/fuelright Kelli Jennings

      Thanks! I’ve found this one to be simple and really tasty too (sometimes celery can be overpowering, but this one is refreshing to me). I’m thrilled that you’re now eating/drinking your veggies and getting others to do so as well. Thanks for sharing it! All the best!

  • C Grade Cyclist

    Hi Kelli.
    My wife has recently been diagnosed with lupus, and has recently started some aggressive medical treatment to try and stop some nasty kidney damage (she has lost around a third of her kidney function permanently). The meds include corticosteroids, and she is starting to ‘blow up’ a bit (apparently the puffiness is pretty normal around the face and legs).
    She is finding it pretty disheartening. Do you think that making celery part of her daily diet would help with the puffiness and swelling she is experiencing? Luckily she does enjoy celery, so it would be an easy addition to make it a more regular part of her diet…
    Many thanks!

    • http://twitter.com/fuelright Kelli Jennings

      Thanks so much for your comment – I am so sorry that your wife is going through this and hope she finds healing soon! The water retention is likely caused by the corticosteroids (as you likely know), so while diuretic foods will not stop the swelling, they may certainly reduce it. Celery won’t hurt and will likely help. Other foods/drinks with gentle diuretic effects include green tea, cucumber, asparagus, and cranberries. You can cetainly add cranberries (unsweetened) directly into a smoothie like this if you’d like. Additionally, reducing any excess sodium, and minimizing sugars and refined grains/starches will help (corticosteroids can cause elevated blood sugars, so it’s important to do what you can to keep them within normal ranges from a dietary standpoint by reducing sugar and improving insulin sensitivity). I recommend discussing supplementation of fish oil omega-3s, probiotics, and vitamin D with your doctor/dietitian as there is good enough evidence that these can help in lupus specifically (and are good for overall health, anyway). I hope this helps. I wish you and your wife all the best!

  • Rick

    I could use this right now but I’m stuck at work. I’ll mix it up tonight or tomorrow morning and see how I feel. I like this one.

    • http://twitter.com/fuelright Kelli Jennings

      Let us know what you think…I’ve found it really refreshing today – good whether you have candy overload or not!

  • Jane

    This is exactly what I needed today.

    • http://twitter.com/fuelright Kelli Jennings

      Thanks Jane, hope you enjoy it!

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Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.

Answer:

Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

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Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

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