Best Foods to Fuel Your Workouts

blogFood is fuel, and this is especially true when you’re exercising. Whether or not you’re an athlete, the goal is to maximize your body’s potential by feeding it the right foods before, during and after your workouts. Nutrition makes a big difference in not only how you feel, but how you perform–aim for leaner, faster and stronger!

In general, try to eat “whole” foods instead of processed foods. For example, grab a piece of fruit instead of drinking fruit juice or eat a Greek yogurt instead of a protein shake. You don’t need packaged foods to get the best bang for the buck! However, that’s not to say you shouldn’t opt for convenience bars or shakes when you’re in a time crunch.

The three macronutrients in the diet include carbohydrates, protein and fat. These play unique roles when it comes to exercise. First, carbohydrates are the best fuel source for your muscles because your body requires and absorbs them fairly quickly. You need carbs before your workout. Second, protein plays an important role in muscle recovery and is critical after your workout, but not as a stand-alone fuel source. You need a combination of protein mixed with carbs to maximize your recovery and fuel muscle repair and glycogen storage. Studies indicate we should strive to refuel after a vigorous workout within 30-45 minutes.

Pre-workout foods:

  • Fruits
  • Fruit smoothie (e.g., fat-free yogurt blended with berries)
  • Low-fat or fat-free yogurt (regular or Greek variety)
  • Plain English muffin, toast or a mini bagel
  • Oatmeal or other hot cereal
  • Snack bar (ex: Kashi Chewy granola bars, Nature Valley bars or Nutragrain bars – skip the very high fiber bars with more than 4 grams of fiber)

Note: Avoid too much fiber prior to working out because it may cause gastrointestinal distress. And beware of too much fat (ex. peanut butter) because it digests slowly and is not as efficient in getting energy to your muscle quickly enough to use during your workout.

Mid-workout foods:

  • Energy gels or chews
  • Low-sugar sports drink
  • Small serving of plain crackers
  • Low-fiber granola bar

If your workout lasts less than one hour, you may not need to refuel until afterwards. If you’re putting in a longer workout (such as a long walk, run or bike ride), use quick pure-carb options like those mentioned above.

Post-workout foods:

  • Fruit with a low-fat cheese stick
  • Fruit with peanut or almond butter
  • Greek yogurt and low-fat granola
  • Peanut butter or cheese toast
  • Protein smoothie (fruit blended with Greek yogurt and optional unsweetened almond milk)
  • One cup low-fat 1% chocolate milk
  • Half of a turkey sandwich
  • Trail mix (mix nuts with your choice of dried fruit)

Your body will perform at its peak with the right type of fuel, so experiment with various options. What works well for one person may not work as well for the other. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey of working out and have fun!

To get a tailored plan from a Cooper Clinic registered dietitian nutritionist, visit or call 972.560.2655.


Categories: Cooper Updates

Refreshing Summertime Foods

CherriesSummer is here, and there’s no better time to lighten up your meals with some refreshing foods. Enjoy these delicious low-calorie picks that begin with the letter “C.”


Sweet cherries include the popular Bing and Rainier varieties that are ripe for the picking from May to August. Sour or tart cherries are only available for a week or two in June. Select firm cherries with stems attached and refrigerate up to 10 days.

Twelve cherries have only 51 calories and almost 2 grams of fiber. They are a good source of vitamin C and potassium.

Tips to enjoy:

  • Create a cherry shake by blending with a banana and fat-free vanilla yogurt.
  • Make a fizzy cherry spritzer by combining cold seltzer, ice, water and pureed cherries.
  • Grab a handful of washed whole cherries for an on-the-run snack.


Summer is not complete without corn on the cob! Corn is at its peak of freshness when picked from the stalk, so try to purchase at your local farmer’s market. Refrigerate corn with husks on or use within one or two days.

Corn contains a good amount of B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. Its sweet flavor makes it seem high in calories, but there are only 80 calories in a small ear along with 3 grams of fiber.

Tips to enjoy:

  • Make a corn relish as a summer side dish by combining with chopped red bell peppers, red onion and tomatoes.
  • Skip the butter and add flavor with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and herbs, such as chili powder or cayenne pepper, for a kick.
  • Throw corn on the grill to really bring out its natural sweet flavor. Go easy on the butter and use light butter or buttery spray instead.


The expression “cool as a cucumber” is not without merit. Cucumbers can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. No wonder they are such a refreshing summer vegetable!

Cucumbers are also one of the lowest calorie and carb vegetables per cup on the market, with only 8 calories and less than 2 grams of carbs per ½ cup sliced. Refrigerate in a plastic bag and eat within a week.

Tips to enjoy:

  • Create a “cool” coleslaw by adding thinly sliced, peeled and seeded cucumbers to your favorite slaw recipe.
  • Stuff cucumber slices in a whole wheat pita along with chopped tomatoes and red onions. Don’t forget the turkey for a summer sandwich treat.
  • Did you know that you can even sautee cucumbers and serve warm with a dash of chopped dill!


These orange melons are high in vitamins A and C, and offer a good source of folate and potassium. Pick only fragrant, symmetrical fruits with yellow or cream undertones. Refrigerate cut melon in an airtight container for up to 5 days or store at room temperature for up to one week. One cup of cantaloupe balls has 60 calories and about 15 grams of carbohydrate.

Tips to enjoy:

  • Create a light summer salad by combining cantaloupe, mangos and avocados with red onion, a splash of 100 percent orange juice, lime juice and cilantro.
  • Make melon popsicles by pureeing cantaloupe with a dash of sugar and lime juice. Pour into molds and freeze.
  • Cool off with a chilled melon soup. Puree cantaloupe and add a hint of lime juice and mint.

For more information about how to use these foods and others in creative, yet healthy, ways, check out the great recipes on our website.

Categories: Cooper Updates

Cooper Spa Seasonal Special – Pure Fiji Milk and Honey Pedicure

Pure Fiji Pedicure PhotoA little taste of paradise is waiting for you at Cooper Spa Dallas. This summer’s seasonal service, the Pure Fiji Milk and Honey Experience, is a treatment designed to moisturize and renew the skin’s surface–milk is a natural exfoliant and honey locks in skin’s moisture.

Sandal season is upon us, so now is the perfect time to treat your toes to some island-inspired TLC. The treatment begins with a tranquil soak in a silky and warm coconut milk bath that offers instant relaxation. Next, a sweet sugar scrub is applied to exfoliate and soften the skin. After rinsing off the exfoliant, the manicurist applies warm Pure Fiji oil to the skin via a gentle massage – if you shut your eyes, you just might smell the sea breeze and hear crashing waves in the distance!

Following the foot massage, the oil is left to soak in to the skin and a warm towel is wrapped around each foot. This rejuvenating sequence is topped off with another massage using Pure Fiji body butter, which leaves an extraordinarily light and silky layer on the skin. Finally, the nail technician finishes the pedicure with perfect precision using the color of your choice–we recommend something fun and bright to complement the summer sunshine!

Want to try the Pure Fiji Experience for yourself? The pedicure service is available for $65 or you can enhance any massage service with the Pure Fiji Experience for just $15 until June 30. In addition, Cooper Spa is offering a seasonal service for men, a Fitness Massage and 4 oz. Corganics Relief Cream, which releases muscle soreness and aids in recovery, to take home. Massages are available for 50 minutes for $122 or 80 minutes for $152.

If you’re in the Dallas area, book an appointment online or call Cooper Spa Dallas at 972.392.7729. You can also always shop the Beautiful Fit products and have them shipped directly to your door.

Enroll in Spa Rewards and start earning perks today—rewards can be used toward spa services, exclusive offers and more! And for a limited time, to celebrate Cooper Aerobics’ 45th anniversary, rebook before July 31 to earn an extra 45 Spa Rewards! Learn more at

Exercise is Medicine: Preventing the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Though a cure does not yet exist for Alzheimer’s, research-based evidence continues to increase regarding the prevention of the disease. In fact, according to Prevention Magazine’s April 2015 issue, it is actually possible to grow your hippocampus (an area of the brain important for memory shrinks about 0.5% per year after age 50) to reverse aging, as is shown below:

After 12 weeks of training at Neurexpand, including 12 total hours of meditation and 24 of memory exercise, this patient grew her hippocampus (in blue) 8.6% — the equivalent of reversing 17 years of brain aging.

Hippocampus after

The top image shows the Hippocampus before 12 weeks of training. The bottom image shows the enlarged Hippocampus after 12 weeks of training.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.3 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2015. Of those with Alzheimer’s, an estimated 5.1 million people are 65 and older. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Additionally, in 2015, the direct costs to American society of caring for those with Alzheimer’s will total an estimated $226 billion, with half of the costs covered by Medicare.

These numbers are staggering and can hit close to home for those who have first-hand experience with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, offers seven suggestions to incorporate into your daily life to help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s:

  • Exercise your mind daily through the use of crossword puzzles, playing musical instruments, using a computer and delaying retirement.
  • Exercise daily – 30 minutes of sustained or collective physical activity most days of the week. Avoid inactivity.
  • Socialize – join a club, go to the theater or just get out of the house.
  • Get adequate sleep, which should be approximately seven hours per night.
  • Take omega-3 – 1,000 mg twice a day and/or consume two servings of fatty fish per week.
  • Take vitamin D3 – 2,000 IU daily.
  • Take vitamin B12 – 400 mcg daily.

Dr. Cooper’s recommendations are based on various studies, including the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (The Lancet, March 2015). The study followed 1,260 people ages 60 to 77 deemed at risk for dementia. The subjects followed a healthy diet, completed muscle and cardiovascular training and focused on brain training exercises for two years.

In comparison to the control group, the intervention group scored 25 percent higher in testing situations, 83 percent higher in executive functioning (the management of cognitive processes, including working memory, reasoning, task flexibility, and problem solving) and 150 percent higher in processing speed (the ability to automatically and fluently perform relatively easy or over-learned cognitive tasks).

“Fitness is a journey, not a destination. You must continue for the rest of your life.” This quote of Dr. Cooper’s from 1970 continues to remain relevant today, 45 years later. At 84 years old, Dr. Cooper walks two or three miles every day, travels the world, spends time with his family and continues to see patients daily.

Taking control of your health and wellness early on can set the stage for your quality of life later, especially when it comes to your brain. Take the initiative now to keep brain health as a top priority in order to lessen the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia later in life.

Categories: Cooper Updates

Keeping Texas Youth Fit and Healthy

By Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH FG blog post

The number one health concern among U.S. parents is childhood obesity. Being overweight can negatively impact a child’s self-esteem, behavior, friendships and even academic achievement. With one in nine American children residing in Texas, we have a “Texas-sized” problem on our hands.

Since students spend most of their time in class, schools must be part of the solution. Quality physical education that includes health-related fitness assessment helps children learn to take care of their bodies for a lifetime.

Texas’ fitness assessment, FitnessGram, was developed by The Cooper Institute and promotes lifelong fitness among students. It is meant to be non-judgmental and provides a safe, secure environment where children can better understand how their fitness impacts their future health.

Since FitnessGram has been in Texas schools, The Cooper Institute’s research continues to show that students with healthier fitness levels have stronger academics and school attendance.

FG blog post kids brain

We need your help…

Right now, House Bill 2804 is being considered in the Texas Senate. If passed as amended by the Texas House, this bill would remove the requirement that Texas schools measure student fitness and would eliminate FitnessGram from all quality physical education programs.

Please contact your State Senator and tell them you want to keep our children physically active and fit. Please remove the harmful amendment which would remove physical fitness assessments.


  1. Click here and enter your address.
  2. Scroll down to “Texas State Senator.”
  3. Click on your Senator’s name (this takes you to his or her web page).
  4. Scroll down and complete the email form. You may write your own email or copy/paste the following:

Make child health a priority in Texas. Don’t let House Bill 2804 repeal FitnessGram. Remove the harmful amendment or vote “NO” on the bill. Fit and healthy kids = a healthy future for Texas.

Thank you for supporting a healthy future generation in Texas.

Categories: Cooper Updates

The Top 9 Benefits of Camp at Cooper This Summer

By: Meredith Rosson and Brandon Moats, Cooper Camp Administrative Team

Summer camp is recognized by child development professionals as a respected experience to help youth improve socially, emotionally, intellectually, morally and physically so they can accomplish the ultimate goal of becoming an independent, responsible, confident and competent adult in the future.

Take a look at the top reasons to send your child to Cooper Fit &Fun Day Camps and Sport Camps this summer:

1. Grow your child’s confidence and level of competence: Confidence comes from what you can control and competence stems from experiences and challenges. Your child could play on a recreational soccer team and be the best player on the field, which will help him or her build confidence but not necessarily provide the opportunity to improve beyond natural talent. If you move him or her to a club soccer team to have the experience of playing against others who are at a slightly higher level than themselves, then he or she will grow into a more competent player. At camp, children will find an environment that allows them to be the best in certain activities, which builds their        confidence, but also play games or sports where they learn from coaches or other high level players to build their competence and improve.

2. Build Autonomy: Cooper Camp is an excellent way to encourage autonomy and good decision making skills in youth. Camp allows for the opportunity to “teach a camper to fish” rather than “catch a fish for them.”

3. Develop Their Own Positive Community: Cooper Camps provide an environment to try sports and build relationships without the pressure and demands of structured sports.

4. Breed Respect: Cooper Camp Counselors help participants learn to have respect through trying different levels of leadership roles and learning about each other’s differences, obligations to one another and physical and emotional needs of each other. Learning to respect yourself and others is vital to success at all ages.

5. Raise Resilient Campers: Resilience is the ability to recover from adversity. Situations can occur at camp that are not necessarily the most pleasant of circumstances, especially as kids are learning who they are, who they want to be and how to master various skills. However, there are benefits to be found in these challenges. They can motivate one to be better, try harder, learn strengths and weaknesses, build tolerance, improve communication and provide opportunities to learn and practice a new moral characteristic.

6. Collaborative Campers: Working together precedes winning together. Collaboration is the key word when it comes to meeting challenges as a team. Cooperation is merely working together agreeably, but collaborating means working together more aggressively. We encourage every camper to bring something to the table and not simply put in his or her minimum required work.

7. Mission-Conscious Games: Cooper’s camp games teach campers to look at the big picture and to make sure it resonates loud and clear. The camp games help campers work on perception, attitude, focus and results. The team games help campers understand intentionality by working with a strong sense of purpose and having a clear reason as to why they are doing the task at hand. Throughout the week, our mission-conscious games provide all campers with the opportunity to lead and contribute their best as a team member.

8. Meet Friends and Create Memories: Cooper Fun and Fit camps offer campers planned and supervised activities, but also allow them to freely take in the campus with friends so they can create special memories and friendships.

9. Our campus: The Cooper Aerobics campus is intellectually stimulating and enhances the learning process and development of cognitive skills. The trees, water and animal life provide an environment that promotes full body heath.

Cooper Fit & Fun Day Camps and Sport Camps are here to help your children improve not just athletically, but also provide them the building blocks needed to succeed in a new community and find a sense of belonging, cooperation, contribution, resilience, and care toward others. To learn more and to register your child for Cooper Fit & Fun Day Camps and Sport Camps, please visit 

Categories: Cooper Updates

Spring into Seasonal Produce

148074457_veggies in store

This spring, fill your refrigerator with some fresh produce standouts that mark this time of year. Buying seasonally is optimal to receive the richest nutritional benefit and highest quality products because there’s less transport time from farm to table. Here are some tips on what to look for this season.


  • These spring spears come in several colors: green, white and purple.
  • They are good sources of fiber, folate, potassium and vitamins A, C, E and K.
  • A half cup serving (or 5 spears) contains 2 grams of fiber and only 20 calories.
  • To properly store asparagus, wrap the stem ends in damp paper towels for several days. To further extend their freshness, refrigerate the stalks with the tips side up in a cup of shallow water.
  • Enjoy grilled, roasted or sautéed using a small amount of olive oil, or simply steam and then season with a dash of sea salt for a low-calorie side dish.


  • There are three types of peas: English (or green), snow (Chinese pea pods) and snap (or sugar snap) peas.
  • English peas, sometimes called sweet peas, can be eaten raw, but are often served cooked.
    • The pods need to be removed before eating, unlike their counterparts.
    • They are higher in protein and fiber with a 1/2 cup cooked containing 62 calories, 4.4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.
    • You can find them in frozen individual serving size containers for a convenient microwave side dish.
  • Snow peas are flat and contain very small peas inside, but the whole pod is edible.
    • They are a classic ingredient in stir-fry recipes.
  • Snap peas are a cross between snow peas and English peas and can be eaten whole in their pods.
    • You may need to remove the stringy seam before eating, but stringless varieties are also available.
    • This popular pea (and my personal favorite) is a delicious crunchy snack or steamed side dish.
    • Both snow and snap peas have a similar nutrient profile: one cup raw has 26 calories, 2.5 grams of fiber and 1.8 grams of protein.


  • As a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, radishes are available year-round, but are smaller, sweeter and crunchier in spring.
  • They are one of the easiest and fastest vegetables to grow in your garden, which is perfect for novice or young budding gardeners!
  • One cup of sliced radishes has only 19 calories.
  • Proper storage is the key to retaining flavor and freshness of these little bulbs. They can last up to a month in the refrigerator!
    • Cut the tops off the radish and leave ½ inch of the stem attached to the top of the bulb.
    • Place them in a perforated plastic storage bag or open plastic bag to allow for air circulation.
  • Beyond serving crunchy radishes raw in salads or as a low-calorie snack, try incorporating them in stir-fry recipes, soups and stews.


  • These sweet-seeded berries are in their peak from April to June.
  • They are a nutrition powerhouse for vitamin C–exceeding 100 percent of our daily recommended needs.
  • Strawberries are also a good source of folic acid, potassium and fiber.
  • For only 55 calories per cup (or eight medium-sized berries), they offer 3.5 grams of fiber.
  • Strawberries are best when purchased from a local source because they tend to retain their sweetness when handled delicately, and they tend to endure less damage during a shorter transport.
  • I enjoy sliced strawberries on fresh spinach salads, but you can also indulge in a bowl with a light whipped topping for a guiltless dessert!

Other Spring Produce Stars:

  • Artichokes
  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Bok Choy
  • Fava Beans
  • Potatoes
  • Rhubard

What are some of your favorite springtime vegetables and fruits?

Categories: Cooper Updates

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