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As a fitness-focused nutritionist who designs eating plans for recreational and pro athletes including the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Alan Aragon, M.S., knows a thing or two about how to fuel a workout.
Naturally, when we asked him about the best way to use 10 minutes, we were prepared to hear something about the perfect muscle-building smoothie. Instead, he told us to eat a Snickers bar.
Take 10 minutes to enjoy something you crave," Aragon said. "Dedicating time -- every day if you choose -- to take pleasure in a food you love can make a huge difference in your diet. First, it helps de-condition the idea that certain foods are good and certain foods are bad. If you have an overall healthy diet, then a candy bar is neither good nor bad, it's neutral," he said. "You'll also get rid of any guilt about eating a food that's not a stellar source of nutrients because you're rewiring yourself to squeeze every last morsel of enjoyment out of it. After all, what's the point of eating a Snickers bar in the first place if you're going to inhale it while rushing from one activity to the next?"
What's more, carving out 10 minutes to take in a treat boasts health benefits. Research shows eating more slowly -- whether it's broccoli or a cupcake -- aids digestion. And studies have found that the longer you take to chew certain foods, like almonds, the more you increase the bioavailability of certain nutrients so your body absorbs more of them, Aragon said.
It can even have an indirect impact on performance. "There's no question that food can influence your mood, and when you set the intention to spend 10 minutes enjoying a food, you're going to feel better," Aragon said. "When you're happier and more optimistic, it's easier to push yourself through a strenuous set or power through a few extra miles."