In need of a little help to get a PR on race day? Try these hacks before and during your race to help you achieve a faster time.
If you’re in it for the long haul, a little bit of caffeine before a race can be the boost you need. Studies have shown that about five milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight of caffeine before a race (the equivalent of 295 milligrams of caffeine for a 130-pound woman) can help better your endurance so you can run faster for longer. If that sounds like too much to drink before a race, other studies have found a benefit with the equivalent of one cup of coffee (about 100 milligrams of caffeine), or you can also try caffeine pills.
This tip doesn’t sound fun – and is not for beginners – but many serious runners train this way in order to increase speed on race day, since going on a few training runs when you are somewhat dehydrated helps your body adapt to compensate for this stress. You can try this out by weighing yourself before and after a run, aiming for a difference of 1.5 to 2.5 percent under your beginning weight, recommends Runner’s World. This should be done close to race day, during taper week, for five straight training days. But since this one can be dangerous if you don’t do it right, be sure to bring along water and your phone and be aware of signs of serious dehydration, like headache, nausea, and confusion – or skip this tip altogether and run hydrated and happy.
Calm Your Mind
Jittery prerace nights can make a good night’s sleep virtually impossible, but lack of sleep can affect your performance on the big day. The solution? Allowing yourself ample time to fall asleep, taking a sleep aid that helps you stay asleep once you’ve gone to bed (if they’ve worked for you before), and relaxing before bed with a cup of herbal tea or some yoga to wind down. Anything that quiets your mind for a good night’s sleep will help you perform better the next morning.
Pop a Painkiller
Running your race on a hot day? Taking a dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) before you start can help. A study found that the pain reliever, also used as a fever reducer, significantly reduced runners’ core temperatures during a hot running day, which helped them perform better. It also may help you power through a little pain, which can be beneficial when you’re feeling the aches that usually go along with running a long race.
Don’t Lace Up
Sick of having to stop and retie laces or adjust the tightness on your double knots? Lace up your running shoes with elastic or stretchy shoelaces that stay in place so you won’t have to stop – and mess up a good running flow – whenever you have a lace mishap. These bungee-cord-like speed laces ($ 6) are a favorite among serious runners, or try these stretchy Twistband shoelaces ($ 6) for a cuter option.
All hail kale! This leafy supergreen is the perfect base for a delicious salad. Not only is it packed full of vitamins and minerals, but it also happens to be full of fiber, so you can finish your salad feeling completely satisfied. If you’ve been intimidated about swapping out traditional greens for this hearty leaf, get inspired by these 10 delicious recipes that highlight just how versatile kale can be.
Photo: Nicole Perry
If you’re tired of battling it out with your boyfriend during meal time, Shape offers easy tips to change the convo and make things healthier.
If you’re a kale-and-quinoa kind of gal with a meat-and-potatoes-loving man, you likely wish you could get a few more greens into his diet. And while you can’t make your husband (or fiancé or boyfriend) drink spinach-spiked smoothies, you can help him give up his conviction that meat is necessary at every meal. A gentle nudge in the right direction with these tips from women who’ve successfully improved their S.O.’s diets is all it takes. Who knows? He might even start to enjoy the occasional vegetarian recipe, even if he’ll never give up five-meat pizza entirely.
RELATED: 6 Boyfriend-Approved Vegan Recipes
- Don’t give it a label: It may be Paleo, low-carb, or flexitarian, but try to avoid referring to the menu you’re guiding him toward by name. “Most men don’t like change, so if you give a name to the change you’re trying to make, it doesn’t tend to stick,” says Nikki Roberti Miller, who blogs at Mrs. Healthy Ever After about her and her husband’s journey to healthy living. While she often cooks Paleo-style meals for him, she doesn’t label them as such, and as a result, her would never say he’s on a diet.
- Involve him in making healthy decisions: “No one likes to be forced to do anything, so have a talk with your man about your eating habits and why you’re concerned or want to make certain changes,” Miller suggests. For example, Miller showed her husband the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead to explain why they needed to up their veggie intake-and now he loves juicing. Even easier: Ask him what kind of fruit he wants from the grocery store. “If he requests a certain healthy food, chances are he’ll eat it – especially so he won’t be held responsible for it going bad,” Miller says.
- Sneak veggies into everything: “One of my boyfriend’s favorite meals I’ve ever made him is my mac and cheese,” says Serena Wolf, a personal chef who blogs about her healthy, man-friendly recipes (dubbed the Dude Diet) at Domesticate ME. “What he didn’t know – until I told him – is that I used puréed cauliflower with a little bit of skim milk to thicken the cheese sauce,” says Wolf. In addition to significantly cutting fat and calories, cauliflower adds fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and other disease-fighting nutrients to the cheesy meal – and your man won’t even be able to taste it. (Find the recipe here.) Similarly, Miller likes to add finely chopped mushrooms to bulk up ground beef without added calories in recipes like baked ziti or tacos, and she adds extra carrots, spinach, onions, and peppers to meatloaf. “If your man is really picky, buy a food processor to get the texture so fine, it’s practically non-existent,” Miller says. “Smoothies (try a mix of strawberries, bananas, milk or yogurt, and a cup of greens) and egg scrambles or omelets are also great ways to sneakily add veggies to his diet.”
- Understand that his healthy meal doesn’t need to look like yours: Physically, a typical man can (and should) eat more than a woman. And just like you wouldn’t want to split a pizza with him every night, he may not want to live on vegan salads 24/7. If you’re trying to eat fewer carbs, for example, make a chicken fajita salad with chicken, peppers, onions, and lettuce for yourself, and wrap it up in whole-wheat tortillas with a sprinkle of cheese for him, suggests Miller. “This looks more appetizing to him, it’s more filling, and he’s thrilled not to be eating salad.”
- Help dispel nutrition myths: “Men tend to think ‘low-fat’ means ‘healthy’ or equate ‘gluten-free’ with ‘low-calorie,’ so I’ve had to explain to my boyfriend and clients that this isn’t really the case – and no, you can’t eat a whole box of cookies just because they’re gluten-free,” Wolf says. In fact, it can be tastier and lower-calorie to use a little bit of flavorful, full-fat cheese or cream than a larger amount of the low-fat stuff, she says. If you don’t want to play Mom pulling cookies out of his mouth while pointing to the nutrition label, show him instead by whipping up a delectably healthy dessert using nothing but fresh, whole ingredients. He’ll welcome the return back to real food. Skeptical that you’ll be able to rub off on your guy enough to make a difference? Through making simple swaps and cutting back on processed foods, Wolf found her boyfriend’s cravings for sweets and fatty foods diminished. He’s even lost weight. But most importantly, he’s gotten over the mindset that “healthy” food can’t taste incredible.
- Make painless swaps: “I didn’t expect my red-meat-obsessed boyfriend to start eating tofu,” says Wolf. Instead, she made simple ingredient substitutions to help him scale back on fattier foods. If your guy loves sausage, for example, switch from regular to chicken sausage. Swap brown rice, whole-wheat tortillas, and quinoa pasta for their white counterparts, and Greek yogurt for sour cream. Wolf promises he won’t taste the difference.Know your man’s flavor preferences and work with them instead of against them. Wolf’s boyfriend liked to eat bagels with bacon, egg, and cheese in the morning, and she knew a smoothie wasn’t going to cut it. “Instead I explained how he could have all the flavors of a breakfast sandwich in a healthier, omelet form – just add turkey bacon, a sprinkle of cheese, and some veggies. Or he could top a sprouted grain English muffin with a mix of scrambled egg whites and one regular egg plus a sprinkle of cheese.”
- Keep up appearances: “Men are very visual- everything has to look like something he would eat,” Wolf says. “For example, when it comes to burritos or tacos, the thought of not having cheese is devastating to my boyfriend. But instead of dousing it, I put a tiny bit of melted cheese on top, which goes a long way, and he can’t tell the difference between 1/4 cup and one cup.”
- Let him do the cooking: Fortunately mankind’s favorite appliance happens to lend itself perfectly to healthy food prep techniques. “I’m such a proponent of grilling,” Wolf says. “You don’t need a ton of butter or oil to cook meats or veggies on the grill, and it makes your guy feel manly to cook food over fire.” Adding comfort-food flavors like buffalo sauce to grilled foods makes them even more appealing – who needs blue cheese dip when your wings are infused with smoky goodness?
- Keep junk food out of the house: “Out of sight, out of mind” reigns true, says Miller, who tries to avoid bringing home processed snacks. “If it’s not in the house, he won’t eat it – and neither will I.” The opposite also holds true: if you keep fresh fruit in plain sight in your kitchen, he’ll be more likely to eat a banana or apple when he’s searching for something to tide him over. Miller also packs healthy pre-portioned nibbles like pretzels, almonds, or pistachios in individual plastic baggies that her husband can grab to keep the munchies at bay.
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Sure, you know lentils as the protein-rich legume that helps lower cholesterol, and a new study found that lentils (as well as beans and chickpeas) may help you lose weight. But you also probably know it as a boring bean. We’re here to tell you to forget that last part! Ahead, check out six healthy but flavorful recipes you’ll crave all year round.
Red Lentil Tomato Soup
Photo: Jaime Young
Red lentils are a special kind – high in fiber, they keep you feeling fuller longer. That’s why we love this healthy spin on classic tomato soup. Special ingredients like Italian parsley and red wine round out the light dinner that still satisfies.
Lentil and Red Pepper Bake
Photo: Leta Shy
Looking for a quick meal? Here you go! The red bell peppers – high in vitamins and fiber – perfectly complement protein-rich lentils in this low-calorie recipe. What’s even better, you’ll be surprised at how large a 250-calorie portion of this cheesy bake really is.
Millet, Lentil, and Pomegranate Salad
Photo: Anna Roberts
Lentils star in this genius recipe from POPSUGAR Food, along with other nutritious ingredients. The millet – a healthy, often-overlooked grain – and ruby-red pomegranate seeds are so tasty: all you need is some lemon, parsley, and green onion for a star-studded salad you won’t soon forget.
Butternut Squash Lentil Soup
Photo: Jaime Young
Considered a weight-loss superfood, lentils make for warming soups that you’ll reach for time and time again this Winter. This incredibly simple recipe is packed with flavor, thanks to cumin and turmeric, the bright yellow spice known for its anti-inflammatory properties. To make the soup even more seasonal, add some butternut squash.
French Lentils With Potatoes
Photo: Camilla Salem
For a great protein-packed meal, look no further than this easy Winter salad from POPSUGAR Food. The mix of classic French flavors like onions, carrots, parsley, and French lentils just can’t be beat. You’ll see that it calls for steamed potatoes to vary the texture, but this part is definitely optional.
Cumin-Spiced Lentils With Quinoa
Photo: Jenny Sugar
A perfect option for vegans who are also gluten-free, this savory lentil stew is comfort food at its finest. Consider it a creamy dish full of protein, fiber, and flavor, all less than 400 calories.
Lazy Summer days can be a recipe for diet disaster. Make these choices every day to stay satisfied and on track.
Cool off, fill up: Choose foods that hydrate. Water-rich produce are a low-calorie way to fill up or quiet a sweet tooth. Many fruits are high in fiber as well, which slow digestion and keep you feeling satisfied. Luckily, Summer is full of in-season offerings like melons, cucumbers, and more. These recipes that help you hydrate should be on constant rotation all Summer.
Go spicy: It’s true – eating hot or spicy foods on a hot day can actually help you cool off. But that’s not all: eating spicy foods has also been shown to possibly increase your metabolism, and it’s a no- or low-calorie way to add flavor to your meals.
Turn off the stove: Oatmeal is one of the best ways to start your day off right. It’s full of fiber and can help regulate appetite, but it also isn’t exactly what you crave on a hot morning. Instead, throw together this easy overnight oats recipe the night before and keep in your fridge. It’ll be ready for you in the morning.
Make your treat work for you: Indulging can be an important part of the weight-loss equation, but that doesn’t mean your treats have to all be empty calories. Cool off with one of these low-calorie protein smoothies that taste like a milkshake, for example, to help tie you over between meals in the afternoon.