What cyclists eat and drink determines how fast and how far they can ride. What are your goals? Recreation, competitive racing, or heavy-duty triathlons? Even recreational riders should pay attention to their diet; maximize your ride and get the body you want. All athletes and exercisers need energy to function.
Many cyclists avoid caffeine, knowing it’s a diuretic, but here’s a surprise. During endurance exercise, the dehydrating qualities of caffeine are practically nil with small amounts of caffeine. And studies have shown that it may help the body burn fat, rather than carbohydrate reserves.
Coffee is not an ideal source of caffeine for exercisers or athletes – therefore, don’t think you can justify your Starbucks habit. We have only 1,500-3,000 calories of reserve carbs, but the body stores 70,000 fat calories at any given time, so burn, baby, burn.
Each hour of an intense bike ride will use 500-1,000 calories. Your overall protein needs will increase during exercise; supplement at 1.2-2. g protein per kilogram of body weight per day depending on your intensity and length of exercise.
For endurance events, you can increase your carbs three days prior. This maximizes the body’s glycogen stores. While you ride, you need 30-60 g of carbs for each hour beyond the first hour. An energy bar works.
Practice eating while you ride and don’t change your food choice on race day. Remember, fat can contribute as much as 75 percent of your energy demands during endurance training. Keep foods simple.
During a ride in hot weather, the body’s ability to digest becomes compromised. Liquid foods avoid this situation, and keep you speeding along without much hassle. Certain energy drinks can fill the bill, as does an Ensure protein drink, available in any drug store.
Ensure also comes in powder form; having baggies of it allows you to add it to water, drink a meal, and continue on. You can also mix fruit juice and water for a source of hydration, carbs and sugar for your blood.
How’d you like to burn 350-500 calories per hour, doing something that’s refreshing and widely available? If your answer’s yes, then go put on your swimsuit and keep reading. Swimming is great exercise, whether you do it casually or in a serious, “endurance sport” manner.
Triathletes must make diet their primary focus if they want to significantly improve their performance. But for any type of athletic conditioning, nutrition is at least 80 percent of the formula, and training makes up no more than 20 percent.
Keys to the 80/20 formula are quality, quantity, and timing of nutrients … learning not only what to eat but also “how and when” will maximize results in triathlons, multiple-sport activities, and even for recreational exercisers. Developing good eating habits every day can make the difference between great training/exercise/events, and just struggling through.
Note that I said “habits.” Eating well can become a habit over time, one you no longer have to think about, or feel burdened by in any way. Commit to the concept of positive, life-enhancing, sport-enhancing long-term change through diet, and over time, you will develop this good habit just as easily as people develop bad ones.
Now, back to the pool. Is there any truth to the phrase “no swimming until one hour after you’ve eaten?” Yes, a bit, but only if you’re planning on swimming with extreme intensity, as in a triathlon.
Recreational swimming falls in a different category. You, your children or grandchildren can all swim or play in the pool after eating. Frolicking with a full belly is perfectly safe.
In fact, if you plan to swim in the morning – especially just after rising from a night’s sleep – eat something. Engaging in vigorous exercise on an empty stomach will cause you to suffer. You’ll feel weak, possibly dizzy, perhaps sick to your stomach. Certainly your workout will be a poor one and most likely will have to be cut short.
After sleep, your blood sugar is low. So have a snack before you hit the pool.
Swimming is less demanding than running or cycling for pre-activity nutrition. Even fruit, toast or a sports drink will do, to elevate the blood sugar a bit. Hydration before or during swimming is not much of an issue because you won’t overheat in water, but hydration after swimming restores electrolyte balance.
In all three triathlon sports, post-workout nutrition should occur within 30 minutes of stopping, when the body is most receptive to carbs for replacing glycogen lost during the workout. Ingesting protein will help muscles recover and rebuild stronger.
Women swimmers especially need to be aware of the potential for iron and/or calcium deficiencies. Lacking either or both of these essential minerals will affect performance.
Remember the 80/20 rule and decide now to develop good habits. It does not matter how hard or how much you exercise; good nutrition and healthy eating habits are the crucial component. Next week we’ll discuss nutrition for cycling.
Whether you’re a triathlete, a recreational or endurance runner, or even a power walker, your body relies on proper fuel to do what you ask it to do. Training will take you only so far, no matter how religiously you do it. Here’s a surprising statistic I mentioned last week: nutrition counts for 80 percent of athletic training.
I’ve always been an advocate of eating whole-grain foods – breads and pastas, wild rice, veggies, beans and oatmeal – but you must read labels carefully. Whole wheat does not equal whole grain.
Runners also need “good” fats, typically 20-30 percent of daily intake. Fat is energy for muscles, once quick-burning carbs have been used. Avoid trans fats. Heart-healthy omega-3s come in walnuts, flax seeds, cold-water fatty fish, soybean and canola oils and even tofu.
Don’t forget protein. A total of 15-35 percent of a runner’s diet should be lean proteins such as fish, poultry, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds. Avoid foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol.
Find the percentages that work for you, and remember: hydration is key to the formula, and timing is everything. Drink early: do NOT wait for thirst to set in. Think of hydration as a pro-active commitment, not as a fix for thirst. Watch your urine: if it’s pale, you’re drinking enough water.
Always choose a pre-exercise meal that’s low in fat and fiber, is high carbohydrate and includes moderate protein. That’s the formula for endurance and energy.
While running, consume approximately 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes. If you’re exercising longer than an hour, alternate water and Gatorade about every 15-20 minutes. For high intensity workouts, I also suggest a sports drink like G2 (Gatorade2).
After running, you need 3 cups of fluid for every pound lost. Your body also needs protein and carbs (like chocolate milk and trail mix). A protein boost within 15-20 minutes of ending your workout will dramatically affect how your muscles rebuild and replenish.
The time period right after exercise – your short-term “recovery” window – is the most critical for improving your body. Training breaks down muscles, literally, and depletes natural energy stores (glycogen). During recovery, muscle tissue begins to repair and in so doing, strengthens. Energy replenishes.
Timing is key. Your short-term recovery window is only about 45 minutes, and can be wasted during a post-workout chat and/or drive home. Once this window closes, your muscles will no longer be receptive to the nutritional assistance you could have provided.
Bottom line: have a snack immediately following a workout that contains carbohydrate and protein, for this critical period. You’ll start to see a real change in your muscle tone, endurance and energy.
A good post-exercise meal, within 60-90 minutes, could be salmon, brown rice, broccoli, peppers and carrots. Let your body enjoy long-term recovery on “no-workout” days, while you focus on a healthy diet. And don’t skip meals. I personally eat six small meals a day.
Next week: nutrition for swimmers.
Over the next four weeks, I’m going to talk about proper nutrition for a variety of sports: running, swimming and cycling. Many Floridians participate in one or more of these physically demanding (but fun) outdoor activities. A few combine them for triathlons – my cap’s off to you.
And here’s the thing. The human body can excel at a demanding sport only when fueled correctly. This may shock you, but proper nutrition is at least 80 percent of the formula for successful exercise and athletic training.
Don’t be misled by my use of the word “training.” If you’re a soccer mom taking a lot of classes to keep your tush looking toned, you are training. Dads who cycle five nights a week to keep the effects of aging at bay are training. And, of course, if you’re an individual or team athlete striving for wins, records, medals or the like, you know I’m speaking to you.
But you can train seven days a week – devoting hours and hours of your life to your pursuit – and without giving your body what it needs to support and achieve those goals, you will not end up where you want to be, including in the weight department. You may not even come close.
Picture Kyle Busch on the track in Indianapolis, and his car without the right kind of gas and fluids. Nothing in his driving skills can overcome the fact that his vehicle is not fueled for the task, and your body is no different.
Sports nutrition has many components. Sure, it’s important what foods you include in your daily diet, be they carbs, protein, fats, sugar or liquids. Carbs and proteins both have specific functions. We must understand what our body needs, how it uses what we give it and how we can maximize what it naturally provides. This is how we learn to boost our energy reserves so we can train harder, build lean muscle and avoid storing fat.
As important as what an active adult eats is the timing of when it’s eaten. I’ll talk about how and why to “pre-load” for a workout, and how nutrition can speed up post-activity recovery. Much of our body’s healing from exercise takes place while we sleep, so nutrition for proper sleep is also critical.
Next week, we’ll start with nutrition for running. (If you spend time on the treadmill in your gym, this will apply to you.) All my running readers will gain a real footing on the road to success. It starts with nutrition.
What, exactly, are people trying to attain with ozone therapy, and does it actually work? This is a topic of great controversy.
Don’t confuse ozone with oxygen. Hyperbaric oxygen chambers, like the one Michael Jackson allegedly slept in, are normally used to treat decompression sickness and air embolisms. (Think “scuba divers”).
Then there’s the relatively new trend of using “recreational” oxygen – in Oxygen bars, spas and such. Advocates say oxygen can provide a boost before exercise, a quicker recovery afterward, relaxation after a stressful day, or mental clarity. Recreational oxygen is considered helpful for hangovers, headaches, and afternoon slumps.
Athletes often like it, and in fact, public records related to Tiger Woods’ new home in Jupiter, Florida, refer to an oxygen therapy room being built into his home gym. It’s easy to understand why athletes gravitate toward a health trend like simple oxygen. There are theories that recreational oxygen can also oxidize lactic acid (preventing sore muscles), reduce swelling and bruising, reduce pain from injuries, and speed up healing. That’s a pretty tempting list if you play sports.
Controlled research studies, however, have shown that many athletes aren’t actually able to distinguish the difference between pure oxygen and regular air. It’s only their belief that they can which convinces them they feel better after using oxygen.
Ozone, however, is made up of three molecules of oxygen (O3), is much less stable than O2, and is used for entirely different purposes. In contrast to hyperbaric oxygen and recreational oxygen, ozone therapy is used – by those who believe in it – to cleanse the skin and pores, and the lymphatic system; to naturally detoxify the body of bacteria, viruses and fungus; boost the immune system; oxygenate major organs and tissues; increase circulation of blood and oxygen delivery; and even stimulate an anti-cancer response in the body. Proponents also claim that ozone therapy is deeply relaxing.
Before you plunge headfirst into trying ozone therapy, however, you’ll need to do some homework and decide if you still feel gung-ho. Although it’s been used since the mid 1800s, there’s a lot of resistance to the practice within the medical community. Many medical experts feel that not only is it not helpful, but that ozone therapy could be dangerous if you have any underlying respiratory conditions.
When the body is infused with ozone gas, its molecules react with water in the blood. The resulting hydrogen peroxide is what supposedly neutralizes infections and bacteria. Many medical experts feel ozone gas can harm lung function and irritate the human respiratory system. This could be why the FDA states that ozone is a toxic gas with no known useful medical application or preventive therapy.
Every authority has there own bias and the jury is still out on this controversial treatment. I personally know many individuals and athletes that have enjoyed benefits from ozone therapy with no negative side affects. You will have to be the judge on this one!
Ever heard the term “Weekend Warriors?” These fun-loving, sports-minded folks work hard then occasionally decide to have some fun by participating in an activity that’s new (or old and dear). The problem is, their body isn’t conditioned through diet and exercise for what’s about to happen, and the result is often an injury … sometimes a bad injury.
Common catalysts for weekend warrior syndrome are spring thaw, reunions, holidays, turning 40, turning 50, New Year’s resolutions and your teen’s friends playing ball in the lot next door. There are abundant opportunities to “jump right in” and although your heart’s in the right place, you could pay a big price later.
I’ve fallen victim to this scenario myself. I work out on a regular basis and eat well, but recently I played a charity softball game, a sport that I used to play in my younger years … and I could not get out of bed on Monday. I also could not use my Blackberry because my hands hurt so bad.
Had I at least been doing some type of similar activity before that game, or stretching the body parts I knew I’d be using, I might have had a fighting chance. Changing from a flat gym floor to uneven earth or rolling trails or sloped beaches can also cause issues. Imagine what the 50th-birthday-but-20-mile-bike-ride might do to an office worker.
If we’re not used to using certain muscles, we make ourselves prime candidates for debilitating or highly irritating injuries. I was thinking about the various ways to keep the body prepared for the occasional odd activity, and came across a great quote on the Internet: “Men over 40 should be fit for their sport rather than using their sport to get fit,” it said. This surely applies to everyone contemplating a sudden, big burst of athleticism.
The easiest way to avoid injury is the one requiring the most discipline: don’t do too much of anything that’s new. Start out in moderation, play part of the game, do 5 miles instead of 20. You could save yourself a stress fracture or a couple of very uncomfortable weeks.
Flexibility and stretching are key, too, so if you know you have a new sport ahead, start working that part of the body, stretching daily, and always stretch after a workout to gain flexibility. A balanced diet and proper weight is always a good idea. Hauling an extra 30 pounds around a make-believe football field is tough.
Here’s another tip: A lack of magnesium can lead to muscle weakness and cramps. Magnesium is lost via sweat, so regular exercisers and even saunagoers need to take in enough magnesium rich foods or supplement magnesium. But after a spontaneous workout, you’d do well to have some on hand.
Weekend warriors can benefit from maintaining a healthy mineral balance. Think of magnesium as your “muscle mineral.” The FDA recommends 310-420 mg daily for most adults.
Here are a few magnesium-rich foods if, like me, you prefer a healthy diet to taking lots of supplements: 3 ounces of halibut, 90 gm; 1 ounce dry roasted almonds, 80 gm; 1 ounce dry roasted cashews, 75 gm; 1/2 cup cooked soybeans, 75 gm; 1/2 cup frozen spinach, 75 gm; 1 ounce mixed dry roasted nuts, 65 gm; 2 biscuits of Shredded Wheat cereal 55 gm; 1 cup instant fortified oatmeal, 55 gm.
I also like to keep resistance bands all around me: tied to doors, in my travel bag, in front of the TV, wrapped around the legs and arms of my chairs. A good 10-minute workout with bands can be great if done right.
So if your college roomie has challenged you to a tennis rematch from days gone by … start working the “pushing” muscles on your chest wall, and get your shoulder primed for action. Do some sideways motion drills, and start taking magnesium. If it’s been a while, you’re going to need it!
In my last column, I explained that whey protein is often a problem for lactose-intolerant people who are using a protein supplement. It’s easy to assume that a protein supplement is beneficial for only extreme athletes such as bodybuilders, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Protein has many uses and supplementation is beneficial for a wide variety of users. They include the elderly; those with joint or degenerative diseases, or orthopedic conditions; the overweight; people who do heavy manual labor in their work, sport or hobby; those going through growth phases; people in physical rehab; men and women doing intensive training for a sport or competition; adults who work out on a regular basis; teen athletes who are trying to build muscle and strength; people taking symptomatic treatment for pain relief or inflammation; and anyone with pain resulting from excessive joint stress. Hardly anyone you know doesn’t fit onto that list somewhere.
The trick is getting that extra protein without absorbing a lot of extra calories, fillers or dairy products (as in the case of whey protein powder).
Collagen is a great way to get added protein. Did you know that collagen is the second-largest component of the human body after water? It’s a protein, and one found in muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, bones and more.
Historically, physicians have used collagen to treat skin trauma, such as burns and wounds. But collagen also affects the hair, nails and overall healthy appearance of skin, which is why you see it advertised in high-end skin care products.
As we age, our bodies stop producing collagen protein, and sadly, it’s collagen that gives our skin elasticity. So the appearance of dry, wrinkled skin is really the lack of collagen. Supplementing your diet with a natural source of collagen protein doesn’t just make you more youthful looking, however. Collagen builds lean healthy muscle – the muscle of youth – as well as healthy joints and bones. Can you think of a better supplement to give the special elders in your life?
Collagen protein also helps aid in the repair of muscle tissue. Because a good workout or physical exercise is actually breaking down the body’s muscles, collagen protein assists in the rebuilding process. Collagen makes it possible to heal faster, simultaneously building leaner muscle, following a workout. Some will even find they sleep more soundly when taking collagen protein. Sounds better all the time, doesn’t it?
You may wonder why a person can’t just eat more protein and gain the same benefits. It’s about bioavailability. Protein in food form has calories, of course, and a healthy daily diet only contains so many. The bioavailability of the protein also comes into question. By the time your body works to chew and digest the food, you’re not getting nearly as much protein as the amount you started with on your plate.
A powder form can provide extra protein without as much work for the body, but comes with the added calories of what it’s poured into. A liquid protein is your best bet. Find one that’s small in calories, and better yet, hydrolyzed – or “predigested” – which simply means that you ingest it in its smallest form, with no extra work for the body to break it down.
I encourage you to join me – and my husband and my teenage son – and add a low-cal collagen protein supplement to your diet. You could be amazed at the changes you experience. See the developing abs on the teen in the photo? That’s my son Cody, who drinks a liquid collagen protein supplement and works out regularly.
- Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian, sports nutrition authority, and and owner of Associates in Nutrition Therapy in Fort Myers, Florida. She can be contacted at Elaine@eatrightRD.com or by visiting Associatesin Nutrition.com.
If you’re going to mess around with whey, there are some things you need to consider. And recent news makes the topic even more important for those adding supplements to their shakes.
Remember Little Miss Muffet? Nobody ever told us, but she was lactose tolerant. How do we know? Because she was happily eating her “curds and whey.” Those of us not raised in Wisconsin are less likely to be familiar with these two words but they’re both dairy products.
Curds are made by curdling milk with an acidic substance like vinegar or lemon juice. The liquid portion which is drained off is whey. Whey is also a liquid by-product of cheese production. After childhood poems, the most popular exposure to whey is in “Whey protein,” commonly added to shakes by athletes, exercisers, body builders and people trying to gain muscle. It might surprise you to learn that whey is often hiding in our food products, even “non-dairy” items which are processed and prepared.
This is part of what makes trying a dairy-free lifestyle so difficult. To help sort through the nutrition labels, use this comprehensive list of the most common dairy ingredients present in foods. Whey is present in a variety of processed and prepared food products. Whey protein is composed of lactalbumin and lactalglobulin, and is found in both food products and health supplements. Other common forms of whey present in food products are sweet whey, whey powder, whey protein, whey protein concentrate, and whey protein hydrolysate.)
Here’s some great news for active adults. Even if they’re lactose intolerant, athletes, exercisers, body builders and people who want to gain lean muscle can still consume protein by using collagen instead of whey. It can be taken before and after activity: to pre-load before a workout, or to help with recovery after exercise.
Check the label and be sure the collagen protein you are choosing contains NO added whey. Some “newer” collagen proteins, such as AminoRip, contain NO lactose, NO dairy, NO carbs, NO fats, NO sugar, NO high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), NO sorbitol, NO gluten, NO soy, and NO whey.
Here’s another reason to pay attention to your choice of protein supplement. Consumer reports testing found that due to contamination, some “protein shakes” exceeded United States Pharmacopeia (USP) standards for exposure to heavy metals when three or more servings were consumed a day. Failing the heavy metal test were some of our most popular protein shakes, including EAS’s Myoplex and Cytosport’s Muscle Milk.
It’s easy to forget that whey protein is a dairy product, and important to remember that collagen is an alternative protein. If a person is, in fact, lactose intolerant, then ingesting whey protein can cause him or her to experience great discomfort with symptoms like abdominal discomfort, belly cramps, diarrhea, nausea, itch or watery eyes, and even possible asthma attacks. The more you consume, the more severe the symptoms would be.
Whey protein doesn’t cause the problem, but because you’re taking large amounts in a shake, symptoms can manifest themselves for the first time in people who generally are capable of handling small amounts of lactose. Lactose intolerance is different than a milk allergy, but people often confuse the two because the symptoms can be identical (bloating, stomach pain). These two conditions are not related, however. It’s the immune system which is reacting to a milk allergy.
Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, is all about the digestive system. Lactose intolerant folk don’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down the sugar in milk. Amazingly, it’s estimated that 75% of all people decrease in production of lactase during adulthood. The intolerance really ramps in during childhood, though, particularly for Mexican Americans who jump from 18% at age two to a whopping 47% by age 10. That’s a lot of potential tummy aches.
Non-dairy products may also contain lactose. If you know – or even suspect – that you’re lactose intolerant, then spend some time reading product labels. Any of the following ingredients mean the product has lactose: dry milk solids, nonfat dry milk powder, milk by-products, curds, and whey. It’s also good to know that dairy products which are “fat reduced” or fat free” generally present higher lactose, as do low fat foods, which often incorporate dairy solids.
I think I’ve milked this topic for all it’s worth and now I have a stomach ache. See you again next week.
Smoothies are a great snack or meal replacement (and a mobile one at that). They’re especially healthy as a meal replacement if you follow my recommended pattern of eating five to six small meals per day.
Smoothies can also be effective for weight gain or weight loss and are super for helping you stay healthy. It’s all about what goes in the blender, and the beauty of smoothies is that you can customize them not only to your taste, but also to your dietary needs.
If, for example, you need a pick-me-up to aid in recovery after an athletic event or exercise, use orange juice, apple juice, skim milk, ice, soymilk, pineapple juice, Gatorade, water or low-fat chocolate milk as the liquid base. I typically recommend liquid recovery over solid because it’s absorbed faster, is quick to intake and easier to talk someone into doing if they’re hesitant to eat after a workout.
There’s also the rehydration factor.
I recommend smoothies and liquid supplements for the same reasons: they’re easier to consume, and have a faster availability of nutrients due to shorter transit time from ingestion to utilization. The science of nutrition says, quite simply, that liquids simply have a faster absorption rate.
If you’re trying to add protein to your diet, blend natural peanut butter, skim milk or almonds into your smoothie. Green tea smoothies can aid in weight loss as well as give you a healthy dose of antioxidants. I recommend Stevia, Agave and Splenda when you want to add sweetener.
At our house, we use frozen strawberries, banana, cranberry grape juice, AminoRip protein supplement and ice. If we want to make more of a shake, we add skim milk, or just replace the cran-grape with skim milk. When making smoothies for my 14-year-old son, however, I would use all of the above and replace skim milk with whole milk.
After-school snacks that include protein are another way to power-pack your kids with nutrient-dense foods. Almond milk, kale, cacao nibs and vanilla rice protein make a really good smoothie.
Keep your fridge stocked with smoothie ingredients and you’ll be far more likely to whip up a healthy treat for yourself, your friends or family. Buy fresh fruit in season and freeze it.
Yogurt smoothies made with frozen bananas or strawberries are terrific. Some of the tastiest fruits for smoothies include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, banana, apples, pineapple and peaches.
Get creative in how you mix them, and make yourself happy. Experimentation can lead to some wonderful surprises for your palate. It’s that easy.
Frozen fruit smoothies are a quick, nutritious breakfast food, hydrating you early and giving your body the full range of nature’s bioavailable vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. They’re also full of natural fiber and help boost the immune system. You sure can’t say that about a donut.
I love my Magic Bullet blender and the manufacturer has a ton of great smoothie recipes on its “Buy the Bullet” company website. Share your favorite recipe with me via the comments column at The News-Press.com, or on my Facebook page, and I will post the recipe, along with my thoughts, and/or recommended changes.
Don’t be tempted to skip a meal, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Substitute a smoothie instead. And if the thought of cleaning a blender is making your resistant to this oh-so-healthy option, I have fallen prey to that myself. Just head straight for Smoothie King. You might see me there!
(Originally in print in The News-Press, a Gannett daily paper serving southwest Florida, under the column Nutrition Notes. To see in its original form, until archive is deleted: http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20105110308 )
Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian and owner of Associates in Nutrition Therapy in Fort Myers. Hastings can be contacted at Elaine@associatesinnutrition.com or by visiting AssociatesinNutrition.com. Follow her on Twitter @elainehastings
For more on the Get Fit Lee challenge, visit www.GetFitLee.com. Take the Challenge, Change your Life!
©2009 Associates in Nutrition Therapy. All Rights Reserved.
By March, many people find their good resolutions for healthy eating and exercise have fallen by the wayside. Statistics show that just six months after the New Year, more than half of those who made resolutions have broken them. Fortunately, you can still resolve to change; it is never too late to renew your commitment to improving your health.
If you have fallen back into your old habit of grabbing a quick doughnut or pastry treat early in the morning for convenience, remind yourself one doughnut contains more than 300 calories and is high in carbohydrates, fats and sugars. That one seemingly innocent treat can send your blood sugar soaring.
Your body may feel a sudden energy surge, but this will be spent quickly. Then your system will go through a rebound that can make you feel extremely tired and out of sorts.
This is the beginning of a seesaw effect in your body that is often fueled by snack foods high in sugar and carbohydrates. Remember how difficult it was to balance a seesaw perfectly on the playground? This balancing act is what you are forcing your body to do when you eat foods that contain no real nutrition, but are heavily loaded with unhealthy fats, sugars and simple carbohydrates.
So just exactly what do you need to eat if you want to get back on the path to good nutrition and health? For starters you need to avoid fad diets and stay clear of foods filled with empty calories, sugars and fats.
Here are a few basic guidelines to get you on the right track.
- Opt for a dietary program that is packed with whole grains, fruits, veggies as well as some healthy fats and oils.
- Be sure your daily meals contain good carbohydrates such as whole grains; do not eliminate all carbohydrates from your diet.
- Include plenty of fiber by eating a variety of fruits, veggies and whole grains.
- Choose lean, healthy protein sources such as poultry, nuts, fish and beans.
- Limit saturated and trans fats; choose oils that come from nuts, fish and plant sources.
- Select calcium-rich foods such as skim or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and vegetables.
- Add color to your plate by choosing a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Limit your use of salt and enjoy the rich, luscious flavors of the foods or add salt-free seasonings to enhance natural flavors.
- Plan ahead by creating a healthy shopping list or selecting restaurants that offer nutritious selections.
- Track your meals, exercise and medical information online or through a food diary such as the Get Fit Lee program, a local health initiative challenging Lee County residents to collectively lose one million pounds of body fat, GetFitLee.com.
Often, making changes slowly can help you be more successful in creating new habits. Try incorporating one or more of these recommendations into your lifestyle each week. Over time, you will find that these nutritious choices will give you more fuel for your day and help improve your chances of successfully reaching your goals.