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3 Quick HIIT Workouts for Beginners

3 Quick HIIT Workouts for Beginners

3 Quick HIIT Workouts for Beginners

Photo: Twenty20

Just because you’re new to fitness doesn’t mean high-intensity interval training isn’t for you. Otherwise known as HIIT workouts, these fast-paced routines have been shown to torch tons of calories in a short amount of time — so you don’t need to spend hours in the gym. This type of training will have you alternating between periods of maximum effort (think: 20 seconds of jumping jacks) and short recovery.

If you’re just getting into fitness — or starting over after an injury —  the key to success lies in doing the right moves, at your own pace. Yes, HIIT workouts should be intense, but pushing too hard, too fast can result in injuries and other setbacks. Your task: Listen to your body, modify as needed, and complete each movement with proper form.

RELATED: The Do-It-Anywhere HIIT Workout You Need to Try

To kick off your journey without a hitch, we’ve tapped Justin Rubin, trainer for Daily Burn’s True Beginner program, to create three workouts, ranging from 10 to 30 minutes. Each one has easy-to-master moves, made just for you. All you need is a chair and a yoga mat. Then, start with this dynamic, two-minute warm-up to get your muscles ready to go:

  • Jog or march in place for 30 seconds.
  • Standing tall, circle your arms backwards, one after the other, (as if you’re pretending to do the backstroke) for 30 seconds.
  • Finally, perform a front lunge, side lunge and back lunge stepping with the same leg, then switch to the other leg and repeat. Continue for one minute. Now, get ready to HIIT it!

RELATED: 50 Butt Exercises to Sculpt Stronger Glutes

Beginner HIIT Workouts You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less

10-Minute HIIT Workout

Work up a sweat in less than the time it would take you to drive to your gym with this simple routine. Best of all, you don’t need any equipment to jump right in.

HIIT Workouts: 10-Minute Beginner HIIT Workout

Photo: Pond5

Jab, cross, front (right side): Stand with the right foot in front of the left, hips facing to your left side. Bring your arms up into a boxing position. Jab (punch) forward with the right arm, then throw a “cross” punch with the left arm, letting your body rotate as your left arm crosses over your body to the right. Your bodyweight should be over your right foot, with your back heel picking up off the floor slightly. Bring both arms back into the body, shifting your weight back to the starting position and facing front. (This is the “front” move.) Repeat on the left side. For more detailed instructions, try Cardio Kickboxing 1 and 2 in DailyBurn’s True Beginner program.

Jumping jacks: Start by standing upright with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Jump your feet out while raising your arms. Repeat as fast as possible. If a regular jumping jack is too difficult, step side to side while raising your arms instead.

Sumo squats: Position your feet a little more than hip-width apart and point your toes out at a 45-degree angle. Keeping your weight in your heels, back flat and chest upright, lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Engage your glutes and quads and push back to the start position. Repeat.

Cool down with an overhead stretch, reverse lunge and forward fold.

RELATED: HIIT It Hard with These 27 Beginner Workouts and Tips

20-Minute MetCon: HIIT Workout

Metabolic conditioning is designed to maximize your caloric burn, so you should expect this workout to feel challenging. You’ll go through five moves that focus on full-body exercises. Try to do as many reps as possible during each 45-second interval, then rest for 15 seconds before repeating.

HIIT Workouts: 20-Minute MetCon HIIT Workout for Beginners

Photo: Pond5

Push-ups: If you can’t complete a traditional push-up, place your hands on a stable chair or plyo box instead of the floor. Or, try doing push-ups with your knees resting on the ground.

Squats: For extra assistance, use a chair for added support. Remember to keep your feet under your hips and your bodyweight in your heels, says Justin.

Butt kicks: Jog or walk in place, kicking your right heel up to touch your bottom. Repeat with the left leg.

Tricep dips: Place your hands on a chair or a low table, with your back to the chair. Put your legs straight out while balancing on your palms. Bending from your elbows, lower as far as you can, then press up to the original position. Engage that core!

Side Lunges: With your bodyweight in your heels and your toes facing forwards, step to the left in a deep lateral lunge, keeping your knee above your toes. Alternate legs.

Cool down with an overhead stretch, a quad stretch and a forward fold.

RELATED: 3 Fat-Blasting HIIT Workouts to Try Now

30-Minute MetCon: HIIT Workout

Got half an hour? Try this longer workout to challenge your core, and your upper and lower body. (Fun fact: This will burn more calories than 30 minutes spent walking on the treadmill!) Complete the same three-minute warm-up as in the previous workout, then get ready to move it, move it.

HIIT Workouts: 30-Minute HIIT Workout for Beginners

Photo: Pond5

For exercise descriptions, see above.

Cool down with an overhead stretch, a reverse lunge, a quad stretch and a forward fold, holding each move for 30 seconds.

To get new workouts free you can do right at home, head to dailyburn.com

Originally published February 2015. Updated February 2018. 

Read More
6 Killer Cardio Workouts That Don’t Involve Running
Got 10 Minutes? 3 Fat-Blasting Bodyweight Workouts
6 Plyometric Exercises for a No-Running Cardio Workout

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How to Eat Better, According to Dr. Mark Hyman

How to Eat Better, According to Dr. Mark Hyman

How to Make Smarter Food Choices, According to Dr. Mark Hyman

How to Make Smarter Food Choices, According to Dr. Mark Hyman

Photo: Twenty20

The big fat debate about dietary fat and its effects on your health isn’t the only nutrition advice that’s done a 180 in the past few years. We’ve seen eggs turn from public enemy number-one to a solid source of protein. Butter — once attached to weight gain and heart disease — has become a mainstay for Bulletproof and ketogenic diet-backers (that is, as long as it’s grass-fed). Same goes for coconut oil. So, with all the flip-flopping, how do you know if what you’re putting on your plate is helping or hurting your health? That’s exactly what Mark Hyman, MD, set out to answer in his new book, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? The No-Nonsense Guide to Achieving Optimal Weight and Lifelong Health.

“We should eat eggs; then we shouldn’t eat eggs. Or we should eat oatmeal; we shouldn’t eat oatmeal. We should eat meat; then we shouldn’t eat meat. It’s enough to make anybody kind of throw up their hands,” he says. “I wanted to break through the nutrition confusion and help people understand why there’s so much controversy. And then go through each category of food we actually eat and give people a practical roadmap to understand just what the heck they should eat.”

Dr. Hyman — who practices functional medicine, a whole-body approach to healthcare — doesn’t focus on calorie counting or quantity of foods. Instead, he emphasizes the quality of the foods and using it as medicine. To set the nutritional record straight, we asked Dr. Hyman to share his expert knowledge and provide advice for a clearer path to a diet full of whole foods. Here’s what he had to say.

RELATED: Why You Should Eat More Fat and Less Sugar

What Dr. Mark Hyman Wants You to Know About Choosing Whole Foods

Dr. Mark Hyman's Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?

Photo courtesy of Little Brown & Co.

On the most important thing to keep in mind at the grocery store…

“Eating healthy is very simple. Just ask yourself one question: Is this something that’s man-made or nature-made? If nature made it, you can eat it. If man made it, put it back. Did nature make a Twinkie? No. Did nature make an avocado? Yes.

“Then you can take it a step further: How close to its original state is that food? In other words, if it’s some hydrogenated, strange concoction of weird altered food product, then probably don’t buy it, right? Looking at the label, if it has stuff in it that you wouldn’t have in your cupboard, you probably don’t want to eat it. If you want to eat wheatberries, fine, but whole-wheat pasta is not a whole food. Neither is brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta. Now, they may be better than other things, but they’re still processed in a way. So those are sometimes a treat, as opposed to staples. The staples in your life should just be stuff you recognize — a piece of chicken, a piece of fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds.”

RELATED: 11 Delicious Veggie Pasta Recipes for Zoodle Lovers

On where diet advice went wrong…

“In the late 50s, all the major food companies gathered…to understand how to subvert the American kitchen and replace real food with processed food that they could sell. They invented Betty Crocker. She was not a real person, even though I thought she was. My mom had the Betty Crocker cookbook. I still have a copy. And if you read the recipes they’re like, ‘Sprinkle one packet of crackers on top of your broccoli.’ … Cultural convenience was pushed on us as a way to save time and money and eat well. It turns out it was the worst thing that’s ever happened to America.”

On the ease and importance of learning how to cook…

“If you have your teeth and you want to keep them, you need to learn how to brush your teeth and floss your teeth. If you want to improve your body and want to keep it healthy, you need to learn how to cook and feed it…I think [cooking] is really a skill like anything else. You have to learn, but once you learn, it’s not that hard. You learn how to cut, chop, stir fry and bake. Just simple cooking skills.” 

RELATED: 4 Cooking Methods Every Beginner Chef Needs to Know 

On fat…

“We were told to consume low fat because we were taught that heart disease is caused by fat, clogging our arteries. Being overweight is caused by fat, because fat has more calories than carbs so if you eat less fat, you can lose more weight. Both of those are scientifically untrue. They’ve been shown to be such over the last few decades, but it’s taken a while for everybody to catch on. In fact, it wasn’t until 2015 that the U.S. dietary guidelines changed the recommendations from eating low-fat to actually removing any restrictions on fat, and also removing any restrictions on dietary cholesterol.”

On meat…

“As far as meat goes, let’s qualify what we mean by meat. Is it factory meat? I think that’s bad for our health, bad for the environment, bad for climate change and bad for the animals. But if we’re talking about grass-fed meat, that’s a whole different story. [Many of the previous studies on meat] were done in error, and the people who were eating meat at that time — and this was based on the actual data in the studies — they smoked more, they drank more, they didn’t exercise, they didn’t eat fruits and vegetables, they had processed food.

“So there really wasn’t any reason why they would be healthy…There’s an argument that eating more of the right meat actually can help the environment and help your health, because we need protein, especially as we age. Also, grass-fed beef has higher levels of antioxidants, higher levels of good fats, and that the saturated fatty meats don’t raise your cholesterol.”

On carbohydrates…

“The third thing is carbs, and we have to define what we mean. I think carbs are probably the most important food to help weight loss, but what I’m talking about is our vegetables. Vegetables are carbs. But they’re low glycemic, they’re full of fiber, and they’re full of vitamins and minerals and nutrients. They don’t raise your blood sugar. They help improve health in so many ways. Those are the kind of foods we need to be eating — not refined carbohydrates, such as flour and sugar. Our biology has adapted to [high amounts of flour and sugar] to lead to high levels of fat storage. It’s sort of a fat fertilizer, leading to a vicious cycle of obesity and bad eating. It makes you hungry, it stores fat, it’s a horrible cycle.”

Read More
The Truth About How to Lose Belly Fat
6 Nutritionist-Approved Breakfast Ideas to Start Eating Clean
The Benefits of a High-Fiber Diet (Plus Best Food Sources)

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Plantar Fasciitis: What It Is and Best Stretches to Ease Pain

Plantar Fasciitis: What It Is and Best Stretches to Ease Pain

Plantar Fasciitis: What It Is and Best Stretches to Ease Pain

Photo: Twenty20

Plantar fasciitis can happen in a snap. You get out of bed one morning, and the minute you set one heel down on the floor, it starts throbbing. You did a tough workout the day before and had some heel pain but nothing serious. Weird, right?

Plantar fasciitis is actually the most common cause of heel pain, and it strikes a whopping two million individuals every year, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS). Although it’s an injury that can affect anybody, certain conditions make it more likely. “The heavier you are, the more you jump, the worse your shoes, the harder the surface you’re on, the more you increase your risk,” says Alan Shih, D.P.M., director of podiatry at Head to Toe Healthcare in Tucson, AZ. Other risk factors include having a high arch, tight calf muscles (you can tell if you have trouble flexing your foot toward your shin), repetitive activity and either new or increased activity, per the AAOS.

RELATED: Got Foot Pain? The 5 Worst Food Injuries for Runners

Plantar Fasciitis: Runners’ Workout Woe

So what is plantar fasciitis? “Plantar fasciitis is a repetitive-use stress injury, which is why it’s so common in runners who do little else but run,” says Briant Burke, MD, creator of HeelAid.

The plantar fascia is a ligament on the bottom of your foot that connects your heel to the front of your foot. “Think of when you cut a piece of steak, and you encounter the tough white stuff,” Shih says. That’s your fascia.

The fascia can typically handle huge amounts of stress — every heel strike you make as you walk generates about 1,000 pounds of force per square inch. But too much pressure or strain can damage it and cause inflammation, says Burke. One of the most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis is heel pain first thing in the morning, although not everybody experiences this. Heel pain might also occur after being on your feet all day or during certain activities, Shih says, so it’s best to see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis.

If you’re highly active, the best thing you can do to prevent plantar fasciitis is to mix up your workouts so don’t put too much stress on your feet. For example, run four days a week instead of five and supplement your training with foot-friendly activities like cycling, yoga and rowing. You should also vary the surfaces on which you train. Concrete is hard on the feet, so switch to a track or grass every now and then. And, going barefoot (especially on hard surfaces) is worst for your feet.

RELATED: 7 Moves to Help Prevent Runner’s Knee Before It Strikes

How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis at Home

Once you start feeling heel pain, don’t ignore it. “If you want to recover faster, intervene early or the pain will get worse and you’ll be looking at a longer recovery,” Burke says. Depending on the severity, plantar fasciitis can take weeks, even months, to heal.

First, modify your activities so that you decrease the pounding on your plantar fascia. Whether you’ll have to give up your workouts depends on the severity of your pain. “If it’s mild, you might be able to work around it,” Shih says. Severe pain, on the other hand, calls for choosing a gentler form of exercise, where you’re less on your feet.

RELATED: The 8 Most Annoying Workout Injuries

Shih also recommends icing your heel within the first 48 to 72 hours of feeling pain. Wrap a towel around an ice pack and apply it two to three times a day for no longer than 20 minutes. While you sleep at night, consider wearing a splint to stretch the calf muscles and make stepping out of bed in the morning less painful. “More flexibility generally allows for less stiffness and pain and a quicker return to activity,” Shih says. Anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and naproxen can also help alleviate the pain. Another relied strategy: massaging your heel by running your thumbs up and down the plantar fascia.

Don’t forget to evaluate the condition of your shoes, too — adequate support is key. Your podiatrist can also provide orthotics and inserts for your shoes to help prevent and treat plantar fasciitis. “They provide support and reduce strain on the feet and plantar fascia,” Shih says. Custom orthotics are ideal because they help lock the foot bones in a certain position to makes them more stable. Pro tip: Buy shoes at the end of the day because your feet get bigger as the day progresses, and make sure you measure both feet, Burke says.

RELATED: 3 Quick and Easy Ways to Prevent Running Injuries

3 Stretches to Relieve Plantar Fasciitis Heel Pain

When in doubt, Shih recommends stretching it out. Try Shih’s three stretches several times daily and hold each pose for 30 seconds.

1. Gastroc Stretch

How to: Stand facing a wall with arms extended, palms flat on wall at shoulder height (a). Step your injured heel back until the knee is straight, and the heel is flat and the foot is turned inward slightly (b). Without lifting the heel or bending the knee, press your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the calf of the injured heel (c). Switch sides and repeat.

2. Doorway Stretch

How to: Stand a foot away from a door with your hands on the door for support (a). Step the uninjured leg forward and the injured leg back with the heel flat on the floor. Then, turn the injured foot slightly inward (b). Slowly lean into the door so you feel the stretch in your calf (c). To make the stretch more intense, lean forward more (d). Switch sides and repeat.

3. Stair Stretch

How to: Stand on a step with your heels hanging off the step (a). Keeping your knees straight, slowly let your heels drop until you feel a stretch in the calves (b).

Read More
15 Stretches You Should Do Every Damn Day
5 Standing Desk Stretches to Relieve Stress Now
50 Running Resources for Speed, Strength and Nutrition

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The Top 11 Nutrients Your Body Needs to Build Muscle

The Top 11 Nutrients Your Body Needs to Build Muscle

11 Essential Nutrients Your Body Needs to Build Muscle

11 Essential Nutrients Your Body Needs to Build Muscle

Photo: Twenty20

As much as exercise hits your body with a barrage of feel-good hormones, it also puts your body in a state of stress. From your gut to your heart, every cell is working hard to maintain all bodily functions while you work out. That’s why it’s so important to get proper nutrition and fuel your body with foods rich in vitamins and antioxidants. “Exercise produces stress on the body, and that increases the need for certain nutrients that the body might otherwise be able to produce enough of,” says Ashley Koff, RD, founder of The Better Nutrition Program and Espira by AVON nutritionist.

Take the amino acid, glutamine, for example. “Your body produces it, but when your body is under stress during exercise, you need more of it to repair muscle, including the digestive tract lining,” Koff says. Read on to learn what vitamins, macronutrients and amino acids are crucial for building and maintaining muscle.

RELATED: Got Milk? The 9 Best Protein Sources to Build Muscle

11 Key Nutrients for Muscle Building

1. Water

You already know how important it is to drink enough H2O for replenishing fluids before, during and after a workout. But staying properly hydrated also aids digestion and nutrient absorption. “Hydration is more than just quenching thirst; it means water carries nutrients to the muscles for them to do their work,” Koff says.
Best sources: Straight from the tap, or vegetables and fruits

2. Protein

Protein is one of the most essential macronutrients for muscle growth and repair because it’s packed with amino acids that your body does and doesn’t produce. That’s why it’s important to have protein post-workout to restore these muscle-building macronutrients. “Proteins not only helps rebuild and build lean body mass, but they’re also a core part of enzymes and hormones that help communicate with the body to repair itself,” Koff says.
Best sources: Dairy, lean meats, beans and other legumes, seafood, soy and eggs

3. Calcium

Calcium does more than help build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis. Koff says the mineral is responsible for triggering muscle contraction. Muscles are comprised of two protein filaments: myosin and actin. When muscle contraction occurs, these filaments slide over each other to convert ATP (adenosine triphosphate), aka the way your body stores and uses energy. The more you exercise, the more ATP your body needs to keep your muscles moving.
Best sources: Yogurt, fortified milk and cereals, cheese, tofu and spinach

RELATED: 7 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Metabolism

4. Magnesium

Feeling more tired than usual? A magnesium deficiency could be to blame. As one of the best de-stressing minerals, magnesium is essential for muscle relaxation and preventing cramps, Koff says. Together with calcium, magnesium works to help reduce blood pressure and promote better sleep.
Best sources: Leafy greens, beans and other legumes, squash, nuts and seeds and whole grains

5. Glutamine

You might have heard of non-essential (meaning your body can produce it) and essential (meaning your body can’t produce it) amino acids, but there are also conditionally essential amino acids. Koff says your body needs more conditionally essential amino acids, such as glutamine, during intense workouts. “Glutamine helps repair muscle tissue, including the lining of the digestive tract, especially when the body has experienced stress during high-intensity exercise, like weightlifting and HIIT,” Koff says. Glutamine is also important for maintaining gut function and boosting the immune system.
Best sources: Chicken, fish, beef, dairy, eggs and spinach, Brussel sprouts and fermented foods

6. Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin is probably best known for ensuring strong bones, but it’s also critical for strong glutes, biceps and everything in between. Koff says, “Vitamin D is linked to healthy hormones like testosterone, which helps with muscle maintenance and growth.” A daily dose of D can also improve your mental health and help reduce anxiety. Because not that many foods are rich in vitamin D, some doctors and nutritionists recommend taking a supplement.
Best sources: Fatty fish, like salmon and sardines, fortified yogurt, milk and orange juice, mushrooms and eggs

RELATED: Got a Vitamin D Deficiency? Dig Into These Recipes

7. Potassium

Just like calcium and magnesium, potassium is a key electrolyte in muscle contraction. But it’s also essential for carrying other nutrients to your muscles. “Potassium brings water, along with other nutrients, into muscle cells. They work in opposition to sodium,” Koff says. Potassium helps your kidneys flush out the excess sodium in your body, Koff explains. What’s more: New studies have shown that people who don’t get enough potassium are at higher risk for hypertension and heart disease.
Best sources: Bananas, squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, chicken and salmon.

8. Carbohydrates

Contrary to what you might believe, carbs are one of the best building blocks of muscles. “They’re the key nutrient to support muscle growth and repair,” Koff says. As the best source of glycogen, carbs help fuel your workouts and rebuild muscles more effectively post-workout. Runners aren’t the only ones who can benefit from carb loading. Everyone from weightlifters to HIIT enthusiasts need to restore glycogen stores after an intense sweat session.
Best sources: Whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans and other legumes

9. B12

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) belongs to a set of eight B vitamins known as the vitamin B complex. But what sets B12 apart is it assists in creating red blood cells, which contain hemoglobin that binds to oxygen. “[Iron] builds red blood cells, which carry oxygen to muscle, and helps metabolize protein and fats for use in muscle building and repair,” Koff says.
Best sources: Poultry, meat, fish and dairy

RELATED: 12 Energy-Boosting Recipes Rich in Vitamin B

10. Iron

If you want to know why Popeye was slamming down cans of spinach, it’s because the leafy green is packed with iron, a mineral that “brings oxygen to muscle tissue,” Koff says. It also helps regulate metabolism and promotes a healthy immune system. Without enough iron, your red blood cells can’t carry oxygen to your muscles and the tissues that need it.
Best sources: Leafy greens, lean beef, poultry, fish, eggs and fortified whole grains

11. Beta-Alanine

Muscle cramps are one of the most common sleep complaints. The good news: Beta-alanine, a non-essential amino acid, has been shown to help people stave off muscle cramps from doing intense workouts, says Koff. “Beta-alanine helps produce carnosine, which balances the pH in muscles and fights against lactic acid buildup that leads to fatigue and cramping,” she says. Koff also says that vitamins C and E can help combat inflammation from excessive exercise. “Vitamin C helps with muscle repair as it supports collagen production, and vitamin E helps remove free radicals produced after a workout,” Koff adds.
Best sources: Animal protein and plant-based foods, like asparagus, edamame, seaweed, turnip greens and watercress

Read More
Carb Cycling: A Daily Meal Plan to Get Started
The Benefits of a High-Fiber Diet (Plus Best Food Sources)
How to Know If You Have an Iron Deficiency

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The Easiest Focaccia Bread Recipe

The Easiest Focaccia Bread Recipe

The Easiest Focaccia Bread Recipe

The Easiest Focaccia Bread Recipe

Photo: Courtesy of Rosalba Gioffre

Recipe by Rosalba Gioffre, author of Vegano Italiano

Focaccia, a flavorful Italian flat bread that’s baked in a sheet pan, is often break basket favorite. But it’s not everyday you treat yourself to a fancy Italian dinner. So we’re bringing that magic right to your home. Whether you’re planning a romantic night in, or hosting a happy hour or book club, this light, this savory bread is the perfect addition to a cheese spread or a hearty salad. The best part: Opting for store-bought pizza dough makes this recipe super-easy and quick to prepare. Dress it up with any kind of grape you have at hand, white or red. Then serve with hummus or your choice of vegan cheese and crudité. Now that’s amore!

RELATED: 9 Delicious Open-Faced Sandwiches for Super-Quick Meals

Focaccia Bread Recipe with Grapes and Rosemary

Serves 4

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 batch store-bought pizza dough (use whole wheat, if available)
2 pounds white or red grapes
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Leaves from 1 sprig rosemary
Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly oil a 10 by 15-inch baking sheet, then use your hands to stretch out the pizza dough on the prepared baking sheet.
  2. Lightly crush the grapes in a bowl, and then mix them with half of the brown sugar. Spread them over the dough, then press down with your fingers so that they go into the dough a little. Cover the baking sheet with a cotton cloth and leave to rest for 30 minutes so that the dough has time to rise again.
  3. Sprinkle the focaccia with the remaining brown sugar, garnish with a few rosemary leaves and top with some ground black pepper. If you can find rosemary leaves with flowers, you can also add those once it has baked. Bake until the dough turns golden brown. This will take around 25 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil.

The Skinny

For other quick and easy Italian recipes, check out these grilled pizza dishes.

This recipe is from Vegano Italiano by Rosalba Gioffre. Copyright 2017 by Rosalba Gioffre. Reprinted by permission of The Countryman Press, a division of W.W. Norton & Company.

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How Daily Burn Helped Me Lose Over 80 Pounds Post-Pregnancy

How Daily Burn Helped Me Lose Over 80 Pounds Post-Pregnancy

How Daily Burn Helped Me Lose Over 80 Pounds Post-Pregnancy

How Daily Burn Helped Me Lose Pregnancy Weight Gain - For Good

Nine months ago, Abigail Brown had zero desire to sign up for a kickboxing class, much less work out. The stay-at-home mom preferred to stay put, taking care of her daughter. But at 257 pounds, raising a newborn was exhausting.

Today, Brown is a new woman: She works out to Daily Burn 365 every morning and shares her workouts on Instagram. Under the handle @AbbyWorksforAbs, Brown uses social media to connect with other members and share her inspiring workouts.

“As a stay-at-home mom, it’s hard for me to get to the gym. I had been doing different at-home workout DVDs, but I found it to be too repetitive,” Brown says. “I love the variety of workouts and the different trainers Daily Burn offers. They each have their own special way of motivating me.”

RELATED: Why I Gave Up Running and Started Doing Daily Burn

Losing the Baby Weight…and Then Some

Brown had previously lost 40 pounds by following Weight Watchers, but after she became pregnant with her daughter, she gained it all back. “I didn’t exercise at all. At the time, I was working at a bank and was on my feet all day but didn’t get much activity,” Brown says. She realized that she wasn’t going to be able to keep the weight off for good through dieting alone. She learned that achieving permanent weight loss means leading a healthy lifestyle that includes fitness, so she signed up for Daily Burn after finding a Groupon deal. Fast-forward nine months later, Brown lost a whopping 83 pounds.

“I wanted to be able to keep up with my daughter. She has so much energy, and it was a struggle to chase her around the park,” Brown says. “My husband and I would like to have another child someday, and I knew that I needed to get my health under control before then,” she adds.

RELATED: The Workout App That Turned My Life Around

Getting Fit at Home — and Beyond

When Brown joined Daily Burn in June 2017, she kicked off her home workout routine with Daily Burn 365 every morning. “It’s just a great way to start off my day. I have more energy and it gives me something to look forward to. My daughter is often in the background of all of my Instagram workout videos,” she says.

In addition to Daily Burn 365, Brown enjoys working out to Power Cardio, Cardio Sculpt, Undefeated (kickboxing), Barre Harmony and DB10 (a series of high-intensity 10-minute workouts). Brown says Daily Burn has expanded her fitness repertoire and inspired her to try different workouts. “I played soccer for eight years growing up but wasn’t very active as an adult. I love Erika’s workouts the best, especially her kickboxing routines. It helped me try workouts I otherwise wouldn’t,” she says.

Living in Portland, Oregon — an outdoor mecca — Brown has also grown to appreciate being active in nature. On sunny days, she and her daughter will go for a walk in the park or hit up a new hiking trail. Being outdoors has helped her realize that you don’t have to be at the gym to get moving. “I’m going to Hawaii in May and I’m excited to learn how to surf for the first time. I would never have considered doing something like that before,” Brown says. Brown recalls during the last family vacation she went on, she didn’t even want to get out of the car to go for a short hike. “I limited myself so much because I didn’t think I could do it,” she says.

RELATED: How Climbing Mountains Helped These 7 Women Heal

Meal Prepping to Make Clean Eating Easy

Brown continues to follow Weight Watchers to help her maintain her weight loss, but she also adopted meal prepping to ensure she has healthy meals on hand for her and her family. “I usually prepare some sort of soup or chili in my crockpot, grill meat and roast vegetables in the oven,” she says. Brown plans her meals for the week every Saturday or Sunday, and sometimes, her husband will join, too. “My husband is a garbage man and starts work at 4:30 a.m., so he has to have all his meals prepped before he gets up. When he sees me cooking in the kitchen, he’ll start prepping stuff for himself,” Brown says.

Brown uses the Weight Watchers’ points and calorie system to help her prepare a balanced meal at home. “Every meal usually has a starch, like sweet potatoes and brown rice, lean protein and veggies,” Brown says. For a healthy snack, she’ll pair fruit with a protein, like an apple or banana with peanut butter or string cheese.

RELATED: 50 Resources That Make Meal Prep a Snap

Posting Sweaty Selfies, Workouts and More

Aside from the physical benefits of exercise, Brown also enjoys interacting with other Daily Burn 365 members on social media. “Staying at home with my daughter has made me feel very isolated at times, so it’s nice being able to connect with other people on the same mission as me,” Brown says. “I’ve connected with so many amazing and driven people on [Daily Burn’s] community Facebook page and Instagram.”

Brown also feels better in her clothes and dropped eight pant sizes. She even had to get her wedding rings adjusted two full sizes down. These changes have given her more confidence to try new things and improved her self-esteem. On her Instagram, Brown often posts her Daily Burn kickboxing routines, heart-pumping Tabatas and weightlifting supersets.

“I can actually do push-ups and burpees. When I first started, I had to modify almost everything,” Brown says. And on days when she’s lacking workout motivation, she looks to the community for support. “They all motivate me to keep putting in the work, especially on days I don’t feel like it.”

RELATED: Just Not Feeling It Today? 33 Sources of Workout Motivation

In an age when social media can sometimes be a difficult place to share your weight loss struggles, Brown says that Daily Burn is a safe place to share her journey. “There are so many negative people out there who will compare you to everyone else, but I haven’t seen anything like that on Daily Burn,” she says. “It’s so uplifting.”

To join the Daily Burn community and get and a new, LIVE workout every day, head to dailyburn.com/365. Start your free trial today! 

*Note to reader: The content in this article relates to the core service offered by Daily Burn. In the interest of editorial disclosure and integrity, the reader should know that Daily Burn owns and operates this site. Always talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise or weight loss program and note that the results highlighted above are not typical. Daily Burn users who worked out for 30 minutes or more at least five times a week for 60 to 90 days reported an average weight loss of about one pound per week. For those seeking to lose weight, keep in mind that extreme weight loss can be harmful to your health if done improperly or too suddenly.

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Is It Better to Do Cardio or Strength Training First?

Is It Better to Do Cardio or Strength Training First?

Is It Better to Do Cardio or Strength Training First?

Photo: Twenty20

By now you know if you want to build a lean, fit body, you can’t stick to the treadmill or elliptical alone. It takes some heavy lifting to get that strong and chiseled physique. In fact, even if you want to be a better runner, you still need to incorporate strength training into your routine. But when you’re strapped for time, and need to squeeze cardio and weights into a single sweat session, which should you tackle first? Strength training, according to the research and fitness pros. Here’s why.

RELATED: How to Get Toned Armed with 6 Easy Exercises

Why Weights Shouldn’t Wait

In one study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers pinned three workout tactics against each other: Strength training alone, running then strength, and cycling followed by strength. They found that exercisers did fewer weight lifting reps if they had just ran or cycled. Yet, doing strength training with no cardio beforehand resulted in more reps.

Another recent study found similar results. After research subjects performed different bouts of treadmill running, the number of reps they performed during resistance training decreased, as did muscle power. Their heart rate and rate of perceived exertion also increased during the strength training sessions that followed aerobic exercise, especially after a HIIT running workout.

“In my experience, I’ve found that most exercisers feel ‘stronger’ when they engage in resistance training first,” says Robert Confessore, PhD, clinical exercise physiologist at Summit Medical Fitness Center in Kalispell, MT. Many scientific studies also demonstrate that aerobic training can negatively affect strength development when performed prior to lifting (whereas research is lacking on the reverse effect), he says. This is due to physiological changes in the muscles that help you move. When you use those fibers to fatigue before you do resistance exercises, your form and drive will likely suffer.

And that can have a noticeable impact. According to Lacey Stone, an LA-based celebrity trainer, if you want the muscle-building benefits of strength training, it’s best to start with those exercises. “It’s vital that you lift before your cardio workouts, because you will have the most power and the most strength to lift heavier loads, which in turn will make you stronger,” she says.

RELATED: 9 Ways to Torch Your Core in Every Workout

Is It Better to Do Cardio or Strength Training First? Experts say strength training.

Photo: Pond5

When Cardio Matters Most

In terms of fighting off fat, both resistance exercises and anaerobic workouts are crucial. “When you gain muscle, it raises your metabolic rate, which helps you burn fat faster,” Stone explains. And according to research, doing both strength and cardio decreases body fat significantly more than each method alone. So you can probably stick to the same formula mentioned above, but keep in mind this caveat: That same study showed that while fat mass and waist circumference decrease when you do a combo of the two techniques or just aerobic activity. In other words, lifting alone didn’t lead to weight loss.

So if you want to slim down, you need to kick up your cardio — even if that means skipping some weights when you’re short on time. “Remember: Strength training changes your shape and cardio changes your size,” says Stone.

If it’s better cardio capacity you’re after, Stone says there are mixed reviews on what to tackle first. It’s still smart to strength train even if you want to be a better runner or biker. In fact, one study found that resistance exercises improved endurance athletes’ performance, muscle power and economy. You may just need longer and more frequent cardio moves (some of those being stand-alone aerobic sessions), with cross-training days sprinkled throughout your weekly schedule.

Research suggests taking ample recovery time between strength sessions, too, so you don’t mess with your endurance benefits. As shown in the study, the physiological stress from resistance training can fatigue muscles and potentially slow down the benefits of running or cycling sessions. Similarly, ACE-sponsored research shows that strength training before cardio increased heart rate by 12 beats per minute, which can increase your rate of perceived exertion. This makes your workout feel more vigorous and causes you to feel tired, faster. An important note to keep in mind if you’re aiming to go for a longer run or ride.

RELATED: 8 Exercises Trainers Never Do (And What To Do Instead)

Finding Your Formula for Success

Of course every individual has different ideas for what they want to get out of their gym time. So tailor yours to your goals. “To the recreational exerciser, I recommend experimenting with the order of the two types of training within the same workout. Then gauge which works best for you,” says Confessore. If you’re still unsure of what to do, Confessore suggests scheduling these two types of workouts on different days. That way, you don’t have to worry about one affecting the other.

The bottom line… Do what works for your body, but if you need a place to start: Tackle strength, then cardio.

Originally published June 2015. Updated February 2018.

Read More
Got 10 Minutes? 3 Fat-Blasting Bodyweight Workouts
6 Plyometric Exercises for a Better Workout in Less Time
5 Exercises for the Perfect Beginner Bodyweight Workout

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Your 20-Minute Dumbbell Workout to Build Muscle All Over

Your 20-Minute Dumbbell Workout to Build Muscle All Over

Your 20-Minute Dumbbell Workout to Build Muscle All Over

There’s no piece of workout equipment that can make you feel more powerful and strong than a pair of dumbbells. Unlike exercise machines, dumbbells give you freedom of movement and force you to recruit more muscles at once. That’s why they’re the preferred choice for total-body workouts.

But in order to get the most out of your dumbbell workout and ensure that you’re moving safely and efficiently, maintaining proper form is key. Ben Booker, lead trainer of Daily Burn’s Live to Fail program and founder of Second Chance Lifestyle, says, “When you can’t follow a smooth up and down motion, or the weight gets squirrely, then drop the weight to get the form right.”

As you get stronger, your heavy set of dumbbells will feel lighter, and you can increase weight by five-pound increments. “It’s called progressive overload; you’re going to slowly add weight and it should be done within a targeted rep range,” Booker says.

RELATED: Strength Training for Beginners: 4 Must-Do Exercises

20-Minute Total-Body Dumbbell Workout for Beginners

 Ready for a full-body tune up? Working your glutes, arms, chest and back, these four fundamental dumbbell exercises focus on targeting major muscle groups. Booker recommends starting with four sets of six to eight reps.

1. Dumbbell Squat

Targets: Quads, hamstrings and shoulders
How to: Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in racked position with elbows bent and the dumbbell at shoulder height (a). Lower your butt down and back into a squat, keeping your weight in your heels. The dumbbell should stay directly over your feet (b). Stand back up and repeat, keeping your back flat and chest tall (c).

Dumbbell Workout: Glute Bridge Chest Press

2. Glute Bridge Chest Press

Targets: Glutes and chest
How to: Lie down on the ground with your feet flat and knees bent. Hold onto a dumbbell in each hand and keep them shoulder-distance apart (a). Press your hips and lower back up into a bridge so they’re off the ground. Keeping your torso and thighs aligned, press the dumbbells up above your chest, palms facing away from your face (b). Bend your right elbow to lower the dumbbell down to your chest, keeping the left arm raised (c). Push the right dumbbell back up to starting position and repeat with the left arm (d).

RELATED: The Strength Workout Every Woman Should Be Doing

Dumbbell Workout: Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

3. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Targets: Rhomboids, lats, shoulders and biceps
How to: Stand behind a plyo box with your right knee on top of it and your left foot behind you. Grasp a dumbbell in your left hand and bring your torso foward you so your back is flat and parallel to the floor. Put your right hand on the box (a). Pull the dumbbell back towards the left side of your chest to perform a row, squeezing your shoulder blades together (b). Lower your left arm back down, and then switch sides (c).

RELATED: 3 Quick Triceps Exercises for Sculpted Arms

Dumbbell Workout: Seated Tricep Extension

4. Seated Tricep Extension

Targets: Triceps
How to: Sit on a plyo box and hold one dumbbell in each hand. Press them directly overhead with your palms facing each other, chin up and elbows right by your ears (a). Lower the dumbbells behind your head, while keeping your elbows by your ears (b). Straighten your arms and return to the starting position (c).

Want more strength training exercises? Sign up for Daily Burn Live to Fail and get the first 30 days free!

Read More
How to Get Toned Arms With 6 Easy Exercises
275 Bodyweight Exercises to Shake Up Your Workout Routine
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The Best Workouts for Reducing Body Fat

The Best Workouts for Reducing Body Fat

The Best Workouts for Reducing Body Fat Percentage

The Best Workouts for Reducing Body Fat Percentage

Photo: Twenty20

When it comes to people’s top goals for improving body composition, fat loss often takes the cake. But we can’t talk about how to lower body fat percentage without touching on how to drop pounds in general. That’s because you can’t necessarily target fat loss in one specific area — say, just your arms or belly. You have to work to reduce fat all over. And that comes down to one main principle: calorie deficiency.

“To lose fat, you have to create a calorie deficit,” says Jamie Costello, CPT, director of fitness at Pritikin Longevity + Spa, a top-rated weight loss resort in Miami. In other words, you have to burn more calories than you consume. While of course diet is involved in that, Costello also emphasizes moving more — and not just in a sweat session, but also those hours between your morning alarm and your bedtime.

“If people are sedentary all day — and just work out for an hour every other day — that might improve cardio, heart health, bone strength and lower the risk of injury. But when it comes to weight loss, the amount of effort [you’d need in that hour] is pretty big,” Costello explains.

So, what should you be doing in those daily hours from dawn to dusk to help you drop that body fat percentage? We scoured the science and spoke to the experts. Here, four fitness must-dos to see results, plus other can’t-miss tips for finding success.

RELATED: The Big Benefits of Losing Just a Little Bit of Weight

4 Strategies for Reducing Body Fat Percentage

Workouts to Lower Body Fat Percentage: MetCon and Strength Training

Photo: Twenty20

1. Start Steppin’

It may seem small, familiar and just a little too easy, but it’ll make a difference: Get on your feet more often. As Costello puts it, it’s difficult to burn enough excess calories in an hour-long sweat session alone. But frequently taking breaks from your seat? That could actually make or break your daily deficit. In fact, a recent study found that simply standing rather than sitting for six hours a day could help a 140-pound person burn more than 50 extra calories in 24 hours. And that doesn’t involve any movement, just static standing. Imagine the calorie-crushing possibilities if you took brisk walks on the daily.

RELATED: The Truth About How to Lose Belly Fat

2. HIIT It Hard

Besides taking more moments to stand up, doing a more efficient workout means you’ll blast more calories and burn more fat. For that, you’ll want to turn to interval workouts, says Costello.

Metabolic conditioning (aka metcon) workouts place a high-demand on the body by testing its different energy systems. “Once you influence your metabolic burn rate, it stays up even during rest intervals. That gives you a much more efficient fuel burn, without feeling like you overdid it,” says Costello. He suggests sticking with metcon workouts of about 30 minutes and HIIT workouts (in which you work at an even higher intensity) for about 15 minutes. Aim to do these every other day, or take two to three days of rest between each, so your body can properly recover, Costello says.

“As you get in better shape, you’ll see that you burn more calories week after week, because you don’t get as exhausted,” Costello explains. That’ll also help you reach the caloric deficit you need for weight and fat loss.

RELATED: HIIT It Hard with These 27 Beginner Workouts and Tips

3. Add Some Resistance

Beyond sweat-inducing intervals, another way to increase your fat-burning and muscle-building potential is resistance training. “Strength training is indispensable, because it’s the only thing that preserves muscle tissue over time,” says Brad Schoenfeld, PhD, CSCS, assistant professor of exercise science at Lehman College in Bronx, NY. “Cardio can burn more calories, but it doesn’t do much to prevent muscle loss.” And you’ll want more muscle to burn more daily calories.

Science backs up this need to lift weights for weight loss. A recent study involving about 250 individuals in their 60s pitted cardio workouts against strength sessions. The researchers found that while you need both, resistance work wins out in terms of losing fat without losing muscle.

“If you want to preserve muscle during weight loss, you need to stimulate it with a progressive resistance training program,” says Kristen Beavers, assistant professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University and lead author on the study. (She notes these results most likely apply to younger people, too.) So if you want to build muscle that staves off weight loss, you can’t turn to walking or running alone.

Another benefit of strength training: It preps your muscles to push even harder during tough interval sessions, says Costello. “When you improve your muscles’ metabolic conditioning — so think of building lean muscles — you’re building the capacity to go faster,” he says. While lots of people place emphasis on how this helps you burn more calories at rest, Costello says it also lets you push yourself in your next workout. Aka the more you strength train, the harder you work in your next workout, and the more calories you burn overall. Hello, calorie deficit, weight loss and body fat reduction.

To effectively implement strength training into your schedule, Shoenfeld suggests continuously changing up your routine and adding more resistance to see weight loss and muscle gain. “You have to lift at a high level of effort and challenge your muscles on a consistent basis,” he says. Shoenfeld suggests focusing on total-body, compound movements that work multiple muscles at once, which will also up the calorie burn. Aim for at least three days a week for these workouts, he says. As for choosing a weight (if you’re upping it from bodyweight), mimic the protocol of the Wake Forest study, opting for 70% of your one-rep maximum and readjusting as you get stronger.

RELATED: Strength Training for Beginners: Your Guide to Reps, Sets, Weights

4. Focus on Burning Calories, Not Necessarily Fat

No matter which workouts you choose, keep in mind, if you want to burn fat, you don’t necessarily need to work in the fat-burning energy system. If you’ve ever stepped on a cardio machine (an elliptical, in particular), you may have noticed the meter on the dashboard illustrating your training zone (say, warm-up, fat-burn, cardio and peak heart rate). Fat-burn is on the lower end of the effort scale — we burn fat even while sleeping, Costello explains — therefore, it’s not necessarily the ideal training zone for fat loss.

“People mistakenly think that if their goal is to lose fat, then they should train in this fat-burning zone,” Costello says. “The problem is, you’re still not burning very much. It’s your total caloric expenditure that’s most important — not the type of fuel source you’re using at any given time.” That means, if you opt for high-intensity interval training level, then you’re burning more energy overall — even if less of that energy comes from fat as the fuel.

RELATED: Does Fasted Cardio Really Burn More Fat?

Reduce Body Fat Percentage: Diet Tips

Photo: Twenty20

Don’t Forget What’s on Your Plate

As mentioned earlier, to lose fat (and weight) you need a calorie deficiency — therefore, it’s also time to address your diet habits.

“The least important thing you should be considering [in terms of exercise for fat loss] is where the fuel source is coming from. But the opposite is true when you’re eating — you need to think about where your calories are coming from,” Costello says. Instead of strict calorie counting, Costello recommends focusing on less calorie-dense foods, meaning those that will fill you up thanks to fiber and water, more so than empty calories. You probably guessed this means lots of veggies — as in at least half your plate — plus, fruits and legumes.

Schoenfeld also mentions the importance of protein. “Make sure you have adequate protein intake, as it’s well documented that it helps maintain lean body mass,” he explains. The recommended dietary allowance for protein is about 0.8 grams per kilogram bodyweight or about 46 grams for an average woman, though if you’re super active you probably need more.

Another strategy for success: Avoid diets that are too restrictive, as you won’t stick with it long enough to see results. Shoenfeld suggests sticking with the 80/20 rule and learning your food habits, so you can avoid overeating before it starts.

RELATED: 5 Signs You’re Not Eating Enough Protein

Sleep Also Plays a Role

Finally, to lose fat, you have to focus on catching those zzz’s. Costello says that without recovering from exercise properly (translation: getting ample sleep!), it’s tough to see results. “Sleep is a huge component to reset and reenergize so you can burn more calories the next day,” he says. “Also, recovery between workouts [is crucial]. Choose just three to four workouts a week where you really push yourself. Then have the medium-effort workouts, too. That recovery will help you push harder through the tough ones.”

RELATED: 6 Signs That You’re Exhausted (Not Just Tired)

The Big Picture: Small Steps, Big Results

You probably know this at heart, but it’s worth mentioning. Lowering your body fat percentage doesn’t happen overnight. Or even over seven nights. Costello says, on average, losing about one to two percent body fat a month is a realistic goal. (Here are a few ways to measure your progress.) Don’t get discouraged if you’re not seeing results right away. Continue with your interval and strength training workouts, and focus on eating a clean diet and getting ample rest in between. As they say, all good things come to those who wait…and hustle to the gym.

Read More
3 Fat-Blasting HIIT Workouts to Try Now
12 Awesome Ways to Measure Your Non-Scale Victories
EPOC: The Secret to Faster Fat Loss?

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14 Healthy Lunch Ideas to Pack for Work

14 Healthy Lunch Ideas to Pack for Work

14 Healthy Lunch Ideas to Pack for Work

14 Healthy Lunch Ideas to Pack for Work

Even the best of us cannot survive the rigors of a workday on coffee and granola bars alone. Without a balanced midday meal, you’ll lack energy, lose concentration and your performance will inevitably suffer. Lunch is an opportunity to give your brain a break and refuel the body with what it needs to continue “killing it” for the rest of the day.

But before you grab for that ready-made deli sandwich or caesar salad, remember that these pre-packaged foods, though easy, tend to be high in fat, salt and sugar and can make you feel hungrier. Plus, they rarely meet all your nutritional needs. A balanced lunch should include all these components:

Protein
It helps to repair your body and keeps you satisfied longer, so it’s important to try to include protein in every meal. Make sure your lunch makes up a third of your daily intake. Choose lean meats, such as canned tuna, chicken breast or salmon. Or go vegetarian with a hard-boiled egg, beans or tofu or low-fat cheese. Hummus, nuts and low-fat cheeses are also great sources of protein.

Complex Carbs
Carbohydrates, including dietary fiber, provide a steady supply of energy throughout the day. Fiber also keeps you feeling full for hours afterward. The trick is to opt for complex carbs, which digest slowly and aid digestion. Sources include whole-grains, beans, sweet potatoes, fruits, pasta and brown rice.

Healthy Fats
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help your body synthesize fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin D, which you especially need if you work in an office all day. Healthy fats include nuts, olives, avocados and fish.

RELATED: 15 Genius Meal Prep Ideas from Top Trainers

Fruits and Vegetables
They’re vital for a healthy immune system, provide essential vitamins and minerals, and stimulate creativity. Plus, the color and texture they add will make your meals look like art. Make sure a good portion of your daily five servings is included in your lunch.

Water
BYO-W to make sure you’re staying hydrated. Have your bottle of water do double duty by freezing it overnight and packing it with your lunch. It’ll keep your food chilled and will have defrosted into a refreshing drink by lunchtime.

The best way to ensure you’ll get all that in your lunch? You guessed it — pack it yourself!

Now, we know coming up with creative healthy lunch ideas five days a week can be a bit challenging at first, but having a plan makes meal prep that much easier. Here are 14 convenient packed lunches that provide all the nutrients you need to keep you going until dinnertime.

RELATED: 30-Minute Meals for Quick, Healthy Dinner Ideas

14 Creative, Healthy Lunch Ideas to Take to Work

 Healthy Packed Lunches: Tacos

1. Taco Tuesday

Make the most of Monday dinner leftovers by turning them into a Taco Tuesday lunch. Shred up whatever meat was had last night and pack it along with corn tortillas, rice, lettuce, pico de gallo and pepitas for a complete meal. Photo and recipe: Linda Spiker / The Organic Kitchen

RELATED: 10 Mason Jar Salad Recipes for Healthy Lunch Ideas

 Healthy Packed Lunches: Tuna Salad

2. Tuna Salad Protein Box

For those looking to really pack in the protein, look no further. Tuna salad made with Greek yogurt instead of mayo is already plenty of healthy, lean protein, but an added egg and unsalted almonds make sure you’ll meet whatever protein minimum you set for yourself. Two servings of fruit and veg make this lunch an all-star choice. Photo and recipe: Chungah Rhee / Damn Delicious

Healthy Packed Lunches: Sardines

3. Packed Like Sardines

Oily fish are good for your heart and full of healthy fats. Sliced portobellos and cucumbers compliment the saltiness of the sardines and give them some bite. The double dose of fruit offers just the right about of carbs and pairing them with almonds (and almonds butter) adds a pop of protein. Photo and recipe: Paleo Leap

Healthy Packed Lunches: Meatless Mexican

4. Meatless Mexican Lunch Box

No meat needed! Beans and brown rice make for a complete protein while satisfying fiber and carbohydrate requirements, too. Fresh greens, tomatoes and homemade guacamole pack in the veggies and salsa verde dressing makes it a party. Photo and recipe: Emily Turner / Gluten Free with Emily

RELATED: 20 Meal Prep Tips From the Best Preppers We Know

Healthy Packed Lunches: Spicy Chicken

5. Spicy Chicken with Rice and Beans

This Instant Pot meal hits all the notes: quick, easy, delicious and healthy! The recipe is versatile, too. Use rice or quinoa or tofu or whatever you have on hand. As long as you use the cilantro “sunshine sauce,” this lunch will be out of this world. Photo and recipe: Lindsay Ostrom / Pinch of Yum

Healthy Packed Lunches: Tofu Sushi

6. Tofu Sushi Bento Box

Eat your hearts out, sushi lovers! These vegan rolls are filled with baked teriyaki tofu and miso-marinated kale and bok choy. If that’s not enough veg for you, the rest of the beautiful bento is stuffed with Asian pear, persimmon and carrots. Photo and recipe: Sarah Eom / Father’s Workshop

Healthy Packed Lunches: Egg Salad

7. Egg Salad & Veggie Box

We love that the large compartment of this lunch box is filled with fresh, raw vegetables. The egg salad is just the right amount of protein and the whole-grain crackers act as perfect little scoops. Dried fruits and a square of dark chocolate will help you avoid the vending machine later. Photo and recipe: Melissa Griffiths / Bless this Mess Please

RELATED: 5 Easy Ways to Meal Prep for Less Than $20 a Week

Healthy Packed Lunches: Tofu Burrito Bowl

8. Tofu Taco Salad

It’s amazing how healthy a taco salad can be when it’s not served in a giant fried tortilla bowl. Bonus points for using crumbled tofu instead of ground beef to help keep saturated fat and calories down. Photo and recipe: Jordan Cord / The Fitchen

Healthy Packed Lunches: Avocado Chicken Salad

9. Avocado Chicken Salad Bento

The more slots your lunchbox has, the more variety you can pack in. This grazer’s dream has three different veggies, dried strawberries (they’re always in season), a flavorful chicken salad and healthy fats from avocado and walnuts, which are full of stress-busting nutrients. Photo and recipe: Jenny McGruther / Nourished Kitchen

 Healthy Packed Lunches: Curried Chickpeas

10. Curried Chickpeas and Spinach Bowl

Once serving of flavorful curried chickpeas is a light and nutritious protein. Pair them with vitamin-packed spinach and brown rice and you’ll be energized for the rest of the day. Photo and recipe: Brittany Mullins / Eating Bird Food

Healthy Packed Lunches: Mediterranean Mezze

11. Mediterranean Mezze

Stuffed grape leaves and a whole-grain pita with hummus, olives, feta, cucumbers and tomatoes will fill you up with enough fiber to manage those afternoon munchies. Photo and recipe: Wendy Copley / Wendolonia

RELATED: 21 Meal Prep Pics from the Healthiest People on Instagram

Healthy Packed Lunches: Thai Wraps

12. Thai Chicken Wrap Bistro Box

These wraps will satiate your cravings for Thai take-out while slashing sodium levels. The homemade slaw has plenty of vegetables and a whole-grain tortilla is way more healthful than plain white rice. Just watch your portion control when it comes to the peanut sauce. Photo and recipe: Layla Atik / Gimme Delicious

Healthy Packed Lunches: Snack Box

13. Snack Attack

Whoever said lunch had to be a one-plate deal? You can build a well-rounded meal with snack-size portions of healthy (but otherwise random) bites, like bean salad, crackers, chia-seed blueberry yogurt, a pear, olives and chocolate covered cherries. Photo and recipe: Cassie Johnston / Wholefully

Healthy Packed Lunches: BLT Bento

14. BLT Bento Box

This lunch kit isn’t only cute, it packs two sources of protein (bacon and almonds), whole grains (bread), and a serving each of fruit (strawberries and half an apple) and veggies (lettuce and cornichons). Save the cereal bar for a mid-afternoon energy boost and you’re golden. Photo and recipe: Nina Holstead / Mama Belly

Read More
12 Brilliant Meal Prep Ideas to Free Up Your Time
14 High Protein, Low Carb Recipes to Make Lunch Better
9 Next-Level Lunch Boxes That Make Meal Prep Easy

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