Food for Fuel
From weekend warriors to Ironman athletes, performance is directly tied to diet. Food is fuel if you want to train at the peak of your ability and recover quickly. Be intentional about what you eat, taking care to feed your body what it needs, not what will only temporarily satisfy a craving. Trying to perform efficiently and effectively with a body that is starving for essential nutrients will end only in frustration; and frustration eats your momentum and resolve with a voracious appetite.
Make the most of every minute you work out by fueling your body sensibly. Let’s look at the basics.
Nutrition 101: the Foundation
The big three nutrients that you need to be concerned with are carbohydrates, protein and fat. An eating strategy that balances these three macro-nutrients will skyrocket your fitness results.
- Carbohydrates: Some have argued that carbohydrates are the most important nutrient that an athlete consumes, because carbs fuel muscle. Every time you move one of your muscles, you are using carbohydrates. Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Your body breaks down carbs into sugars and then stores them in your muscles and liver. If you eat more than can be stored in either of these two places, the excess is stored as fat in your body.
- Protein: In order to build muscle, you must have protein. Muscle is the foundation of every athlete: without a solid muscle base, you will be ineffective in any fitness pursuit. Muscle also plays an important role in protecting you from diabetes. The more muscle you have, the more efficiently your body can uptake glucose from your bloodstream. It is important to eat protein daily, because your body cannot store protein very easily. Protein from animal sources is considered to be a complete protein because it contains the nine essential amino acids our bodies need. Plant-based proteins alone do not have all nine of these amino acids but they can be combined to serve as a complete protein, and a simple way to increase your protein intake is to use a high quality, all natural protein powder.
- Fat: It is unfortunate that fat has come under fire over the past few years. Fat is essential for your body to operate properly but the key is to know what kind of fat to eat. Avoid anything that is hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. These fats are also called trans-fats and are very unhealthy. Instead try to get the majority of your fat from olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, wild-caught fish and free-range animal products such as butter, cheese, yogurt, beef and poultry. To ensure you get enough healthy fat in your diet, you can take flaxseed oil, and if you don’t eat fish regularly, you can supplement with a high quality fish oil
Finding the Balance
If you are like many people, you are often confused about how to choose food for fuel. It seems as though there is a new diet promotion every day, promising all sorts of miracles. They claim you can eat cookies or drink beer, and still get a smoking hot body with six pack abs. This is simply not true.
The key to fueling your body for peak performance is giving your body what it needs to perform. If you don’t, you will end up tired, weak, and prone to frustration because you won’t have the energy or strength to work out. The better you fuel your body, the better it will serve you in your pursuit of fitness and health.
Online Nutrition Coaching will help you succeed with personalized meals for you and your family.