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Published August 15, 2013, 11:35 PM

Prairie Fare: Nourish and exercise your muscles

As I tried to lift a heavy suitcase up some steep steps onto a bus, I discovered some of my less-used muscles were balking at the effort. Instead of straining my back and incorrectly lifting the bag in frustration, I remembered to start over. I used better body mechanics to hoist my heavy bag up the steps using my stronger leg muscles.

By: Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service, INFORUM

As I tried to lift a heavy suitcase up some steep steps onto a bus, I discovered some of my less-used muscles were balking at the effort.

Instead of straining my back and incorrectly lifting the bag in frustration, I remembered to start over. I used better body mechanics to hoist my heavy bag up the steps using my stronger leg muscles. As I sat down, I thought I’d better start using the weight machines at the gym again.

We need to use our muscles regularly and correctly or they can weaken or become injured.

Our body has 600 to 900 muscles that are categorized into three main types based on their functions.

Smooth muscle controls slow, involuntary movements in the walls of the stomach and intestines.

They help move our food through the digestive system. Smooth muscles also regulate blood flow throughout our body.

Cardiac muscle is found in the heart, as its name implies. Like smooth muscle, cardiac muscle is “involuntary.” It pumps blood throughout the body without us having to tell it to do its job.

Skeletal muscle is attached to bones, and its main function is to control voluntary movement of the body. When we walk, open a door, carry our groceries into our home and open a jar, we are using our voluntary muscles.

Muscles are made of protein and water, primarily, and we, in turn, need to provide them with the proper “fuel” through our diet. We need to fuel our muscles with enough protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water so they function properly.

In this column, we will consider protein needs.

Protein gets a lot of publicity because of its “starring role” in various popular diets and supplements. Most people get enough protein to meet their needs.

Signs that you may not be getting enough protein include fatigue, weakness, delayed wound healing or swelling in the legs. Be sure to let your health care provider know if you have any of these symptoms.

Nutrition experts calculate protein needs as a percentage of your total calorie intake. Protein needs can be shown in grams or ounce equivalents.

If you eat 2,000 calories a day, 10 to 20 percent of those calories should come from protein. If you do the calculations using 20 percent of calories, that adds up to 100 grams of protein per day, or about 35 grams of protein per meal.

Including protein in every meal will help you feel satisfied and less likely to become hungry quickly.

Nearly all foods at the grocery store (except fresh foods without labels) indicate the amount of protein in grams.

For example, meat, poultry and fish provide about 21 grams of protein in a 3-ounce piece, which is about the size of a deck of cards.

Milk and milk products provide 8 grams of protein per cup of milk. Nuts and seeds have about 5 grams of protein per ounce of raw nuts, which is a small handful.

The recommendations found at www.myplate.gov use ounce equivalents. Most women and men need 5-6.5 ounce equivalents from the protein foods group to meet his or her protein needs. A 1-ounce equivalent is 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish (about the size of four dice), 1/4 cup cooked beans (about the size of a golf ball), 1 egg or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.

Take care of your muscles and the rest of your body with a healthful diet and at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on five or more days of the week. Consider adding some resistance/weight training into your routine. Work with a professional and consult your health care provider before embarking on a new exercise routine.

I just provided a lot of numbers for you to digest. Refuel your body and brain with this nutrient-rich, tasty breakfast or hearty snack in a bowl.

You can find more information about nutrition and fitness topics at www.ndsu.edu/eatsmart.

Loaded Yogurt

3/4 cup wheat and barley nugget cereal

1/4 cup 100 percent bran cereal

2 teaspoons sunflower seeds

2 teaspoons sliced almonds

1 tablespoon raisins

1/2 cup banana, sliced

1 cup strawberries, sliced

1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt (any flavor)

Mix the wheat and barley nugget cereal, bran cereal, sunflower seeds and almonds in a medium bowl. Add the raisins, banana and half of the strawberries. Gently stir in the yogurt and divide between two bowls or layer. Scatter the remaining strawberries over the top and enjoy.

Each serving has 360 calories, 5 grams of fat, 13 grams of protein, 71 grams of carbohydrate, 8 grams of fiber and 350 milligrams of sodium.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D.,

is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.

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