You wouldn’t attempt to drive your car when it has no fuel. You know better, and would make sure to put something in the tank before heading out even for a short trip around town, let along a long trip.
Food is our fuel, it’s our energy source that runs all of our body’s systems. So why do we continually see people trying to workout without enough fuel in the tank? It’s important to make sure that you have a little something to eat before your workout – always.
Round It Out – Plan a pre-workout snack to have a protein, carb, and a fruit or vegetable. Of course whatever you choose is going to depend on personal preferences, and any dietary restrictions you might have, but some of my favorite pre-workout dining includes milk, eggs, nut butters, cottage cheese, yogurt & granola. All items high in protein that will help you to feel more satisfied yet keeping it light. Morning-glory or Bran muffins, oatmeal with fruit or nuts, or high fiber cereals are all carbs that have whole or fuller grains to help you feel fuller without eating a large amount. Bananas and apples are my favorite go-to fruits to round it out. They are easy to take on the go, relatively mess-free and provide a decent amount of nutrients and fiber. Mixed melon, cucumber, and mixed berries are a fresh, light change as well. Making a smoothie to go is also a great way to incorporate more than one of these nutrient groups together in a tasty way. Try adding spinach for a high iron boost in a fruit/veg smoothie!
Did You Know? Cramping when running or swimming after eating a fuller meal is actually your body trying to digest that food. The blood that supplying your body’s intestinal tract gets redirected to your arms and legs, and the food “stalls” in your intestines.
Don’t let your car sputter out, just make sure you put premium in!
This month we will veer into the concept of planning your food intake and knowing what foods are difficult to manage, commonly known as “trigger” foods.
It’s important to have rules that are simple yet specific – if it isn’t part of your structure you don’t eat it. Only a few foods will be totally out of bounds for most individuals. Develop an intuitive sense of how much you need to be satisfied.
Choosing what to eat is as important as picking how much. Protein is the most important nutrient for satiety and high fiber foods are imperative. What is satisfying for one individual will not be the same for the next person so it’s important to know what works for your body.
- Understand what triggers overeating and planning accordingly. This gives you a much better chance of taking control over the process.
- The neural pathways in your brain are not easily wiped out. They can, however, be managed!
- Always be mindful! Stay alert to emotional stressors. If you start reaching for a food that you did not plan, ask yourself “Will eating help me truly deal with this feeling?” You may find that most of the time it won’t. Learn to wait 10 minutes before eating something when emotions run high.
- Exercise is one of the best substitutes for the kind of reward we get from highly palatable foods. It helps you achieve a long term sense of well-being.
- Make a list of “trigger” foods. Know what situations provoke you.
- Refuse everything you cannot control. Stay away from restaurants with high sugar/fat/salt meals.
- Awareness trumps habit until such a time as the habits are healthy ones.
- Remember, if you buy it you have already made a commitment to eat it.
I have recently been getting a lot of questions regarding supplements and whether or not people that workout should be taking a supplement to improve their health or performance.
The market is so saturated with supplements nowadays and there are many question on what to take, how much to take, when to take and whether or not to take multiple supplements.
First of all a supplement is only needed if you cannot get the nutrients you require from your regular diet. Taking in extra vitamins minerals or other supplements will not make you healthier or fitter if you are already getting enough. If you do take in more than you need, depending on the supplement your body will store it as fat (in the case of extra protein) or you will excrete it in your urine.
If you think you are deficient in a specific nutrient a registered dietitian can do a diet analysis to see if you are getting all of the proper nutrients, or your doctor can get you some tests to determine if you are deficient in a specific nutrient.
For those of you that still want to take some of the performance enhancing supplements you do get what you pay for. I recommend sticking with known name brands. When you are going to try something new I recommend that you only add one thing at a time into your diet. Record any changes to your body composition or improvements in your fitness level, if any. If you find that the supplement works than you can keep it as a staple in your diet. If you don’t notice any improvement with a particular supplement than you can move on to the next product. If you take in too many supplements at one time and you have never tried them before, you cannot be sure if it was one or more than one product that made the changes. You wouldn’t want to spend your money on 3 supplements but only one is really making improvements in your fitness or health.
Last month, we discussed the importance of eating vegetables. This month we will steer our focus to another key area of nutrition: protein.
The Canada Food Guide for Healthy Living suggests eating two to three servings of protein daily. If one assumes an adequate caloric intake, this may work out to 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. For a 140 pound individual that works out to 51 grams daily. For sedentary individuals this may be enough dietary protein but for active individuals those requirements go up substantially.
According to Baechle and Earle in Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, protein requirements of aerobic endurance athletes can go up to 1.4 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. Those who train by doing resistance work can have requirements up to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight. Baechle and Earle state, “Because most athletes do not fall neatly into one category, a general recommendation of 1.5 to 2.0 g/kg of body weight ensures adequate protein intake.” That translates to an intake between 95 and 127 grams for that same 140 pound individual.
If one follows a vegetarian diet those requirements go up yet again as plant based sources are not as well absorbed as animal sources. An additional 10% of quality, plant based protein sources are recommended.
Some good choices for these higher protein requirements are lean chicken, turkey, a variety of fish, lean beef or bison and plant sources such as tofu, tempeh, edamame and some legumes.
In an article on Healthland.Time.com by Katy Steinmetz (March 22, 2012) information is shared about scientists who have been able to identify a protein that may trigger the loss of hair:
“Has the world finally found an answer to man’s hairiest question? Shall great tufts again sweep across the foreheads whence they retreated years ago?
Don’t start selling all your wig company stock just yet, but according to a recent study in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers have identified a protein that appears to play a role in male pattern baldness — and inhibiting that protein, they believe, may allow dormant hair follicles to rise again…”
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