Putting Your Food Under Microscope
“We become what we eat” is a popular saying in many cultures. Our food shapes our body and the overall feel of it. What we eat impacts not only our health but also our mood. Treating food as medicine has become popular culture today. The current trend focuses on healthy food intake as a primary fitness goal. Of course physical activity and regular exercise plays a vital role in fitness, it compliments the nutritious diet.
Knowing your Food
Planning our diets based on numbers (calorie counting) is a wrong practice. For a preparing a proper diet we need to understand our food. The basic class of food includes, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Knowing them and their portion in diet will help you attain your fitness goals. While beginning your plan you might tend to cut down fats completely, but that is a popular misconception. Good unsaturated fats —Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — lower disease risk. Foods high in good fats include vegetable oils (such as olive, canola, sunflower, soy, and corn), nuts, seeds, and fish.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy. They act as fuel to run our body. Nutritionist around the world agrees that a balanced diet should contain 55-65% of carbohydrates. However low carb diet have been lauded as effective weight loss diet for years. Research by professor Maciej Banac of the Medical University of Lodz, Poland, found that “people who consumed a low carbohydrate diet were at greater risk of premature death” with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer
Protein is a critical part of a training diet and plays a key role in post-exercise muscle recovery and repair. Generally, strength and endurance athletes should aim for 1.5 – 2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, which is rather easy to achieve. This is because protein needs are often already met by following a high and varied carbohydrate diet, as many carb sources also contain a good amount of protein.
As stated earlier, fats come in many forms and choosing the right kind of fat is all you need to do for a sound diet. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are what is known to be healthy fats. Saturated fats also carry health benefits but should be consumed in moderation, while trans fats, especially artificial ones, should be avoided as they have been shown to increase harmful cholesterol, reduce the amount of beneficial cholesterol, while also increasing the risk of heart disease.
Another important component of food that has recently gained immense popularity is antioxidants. Food rich in antioxidants reduce inflammation in our body helping us fight disease and illness. Inflammation is said to be the leading cause of many diseases. Powerful antioxidants in leafy greens and vegetables, for example, help detoxify the body by removing harmful chemicals.
No single food can offer all the nutrition, health benefits, and energy we need to nourish ourselves. Combining healthy choices from across all food groups is always recommended. However, there are a few foods that can be singled out for special recognition. These “superfoods” offer some very important nutrients that can power-pack your meals and snacks, and further enhance a healthy eating pattern.
Peanut butter just so happens to be the number one sports nutrition superfood. It contains healthy fat, is nutrient-dense and shown to provide long-lasting energy for optimal athletic performance.
Start with the following top superfoods for improved health and fitness:
- Oats (high in fiber, improved digestion, heart health)
- Blueberries (antioxidants, reduces inflammation, cancer-fighting)
- Apples (antioxidants, reduces inflammation, weight loss)
- Green tea (antioxidants, increases metabolism, weight loss)
- Flaxseed (essential fatty acids, increases metabolism, reduces inflammation)
- Broccoli (antioxidants, cancer-fighting, detox)
- Yogurt (calcium, probiotic, improved digestion, bone health)
- Olive oil (monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)/heart health)
- Beans (high in fiber, antioxidants, improved brain function)
- Cinnamon (antioxidants, detox, healing spice)
The bottom-line is while there are general diet guidelines that can (and should) be implemented, it is important to understand that there is no one size fits all, and ultimately, nutrition and diet variables should be adjusted and tailored to the specific needs and preferences. Begin with your own feeling. Experiment. Try things. See what works for you, and make your own food rules. And expect things to change.