Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Healthy Tailgating


Football is in full swing this time of year… and with football comes tailgating! Whether you throw your own tailgate or attended someone else’s, it can be hard to stick to a healthy diet when surrounded with greasy burgers and homemade baked goods. The good news is that there’s no need to sacrifice your favorite flavors. There are ways you can still eat healthy, while reducing calories, sugar, and saturated (unhealthy) fat.

Bring Your Own Dish

Most people will gladly welcome more food at a tailgate. By bringing your own dish, you are ensuring that you have at least one healthy food to eat. This is especially great for those who have dietary restrictions and/or allergies. Try to avoid dishes that need to be refrigerated and remember to use containers you can throw away.

Lean Meats

Choosing leaner cuts of meat will help to reduce calories and saturated (unhealthy) fat. Substitute chicken breasts for chicken thighs. Use 93% lean ground beef or turkey instead of ground round beef. If wings are a must have, try a dry rubbed, grilled wing recipe, like this one. As always, watch your portion size. One portion of lean meat should be about the size of a deck of cards.

Watch the Fixings

Sauces, cheeses, and gigantic buns, oh my! This is where most people tend to really pack on the extra calories. Substitute whole grain buns for white buns. Whole grain buns are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Also, try to aim for hamburger buns that are about the size of a CD or around 80-150 calories per bun. Some of the larger buns can have up to 300 calories! Forgo the mayonnaise and stick to ketchup and mustard. Try to load up on low calorie toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions for burgers. When it comes to wings, ditch the ranch and blue cheese and grab some extra carrots and celery.  If you can’t live without the ranch or blue cheese, stick to a thumb-size portion.

Healthy Sides

In the land of potato salad, chips, and pretzels, it’s hard to find the “healthy” option. A good rule of thumb is to load up half your plate with salad, fruit, and/or vegetables. Allow ¼ of your plate to be lean meat and the other ¼ can have some traditional snack items. It’s all about moderation. If you go to the tailgate thinking “I will not have one single cookie or chip”, then you will probably end up caving in and having much more than you intended. Instead, go to the tailgate knowing you will fill up on lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and salad. And that you will allow yourself to have a small portion of “snack” food.

Choose Your Beverage Wisely

Alcoholic drinks tend to be higher in calories and essentially offer no nutritional value. However, if you do plan to drink, there are some healthier options. Pre-made mixers (i.e. pina colada, bloody Mary, margarita) are often a source of unwanted calories and sugar. Try to avoid them. Stick to lighter options that combine only fresh juices with a spirit. Alternatively, light beer is another option. Drinking water in between alcoholic drinks is a great way to stay hydrated and to reduce the amount of extra calories you consume. 


Monday, October 10, 2016

APFT Prep from Guard Your Health


You know what it takes to physically prepare for the APFT, but have you thought about what you should be eating? Food is your fuel; what you eat affects your performance. Use these tips from Guard Your Health to find out what to eat and drink before and after the APFT, and use this infographic as a quick guide.

The Night Before

The food you eat the night before your APFT can be just as important as what you eat the morning of the test. Eat a simple, balanced dinner that includes carbohydrates and lean proteins. This will allow your muscles to feel energized in time for your big day.

Whole wheat pasta, brown rice, tortillas, and quinoa are all excellent carb choices. For a meal that won’t weigh you down, pair your healthy carbs with a lean protein, like fish or poultry, or high-protein vegetables, such as beans or dark leafy greens. Most importantly, stick to what you know. Eat what works well for your body in preparation for test day, and wait until after your APFT to try new foods.

The Morning Of

Eat a meal that’s high in complex carbohydrates, like oatmeal or whole wheat toast. Complex carbohydrates will keep you feeling full and provide you with long-lasting energy all morning long. To give your muscles a boost, fill up on a moderate amount of protein. Consider adding almonds to your oatmeal or having peanut butter on your toast. An omelet or hard-boiled egg are also great choices.

Preparing your breakfast and snacks the night before can help calm some of your pre-test anxiety. Lay out your ingredients before you go to bed and pack a “go-bag” with drinks and ready-to-eat snacks. Granola bars, low-sodium beef or turkey jerky, and dried fruit are nutritious and will provide a much needed energy boost throughout the day.

The Afternoon After

Filling up on protein after your APFT will help your muscles recover. Your muscles break down when you run; strength training exercises, like push-ups and sit-ups, also cause tiny tears in your muscles. Fill up on protein-packed snacks like a turkey sandwich, Greek yogurt, or a banana with peanut butter. Chocolate milk is not only delicious, but it’s been shown to have great post-workout benefits.  

Whether it’s before, during, or after your APFT, proper hydration is key. Prevent muscle cramps and fatigue by drinking plenty of water. Grab a sports drink or add lemon to your water to help replenish lost electrolytes. Find how much water you should be drinking with this hydration calculator.

Passing the APFT requires a daily commitment to personal health and fitness. Find more tips on how to prepare for the APFT here.


Guard Your Health ( is a health and medical readiness campaign for Army National Guard Soldiers and their families sponsored by the Army National Guard Chief Surgeon’s Office. Guard Your Health provides Army National Guard Soldiers with the information, motivation, and support to overcome challenges and make healthy decisions for themselves, their families, and their units. To learn more about improving your health, visit the Guard Your Health website, like “Guard Your Health” on Facebook (, and follow @ARNGHealth on Twitter ( For more tips to max your APFT and stay mission ready, subscribe to FitText, Guard Your Health’s text message program, by texting FIT to 703-997-6747.


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