Thursday, May 21, 2009

Eat for Performance, Not Just Prevention

     It's easy to ask yourself where you don't want to be in life. The same question applies when we work out. It seems that too much of our energy today is devoted to preventing where we don't want to be, rather than just striving for where we should be. 
You don't have to be an elite athlete or simply in amazing shape to eat towards your fitness goals. When walking through the grocery store, there are so many food products that "prevent weight gain"or "prevent heart disease". Why do we have our heads geared toward such negative consequences? Have we as a society set the bar so low that we have to eat things just to prevent heart disease? Is heart disease now considered inevitable unless we fight against it? Our bodies don't naturally assume heart disease or even type II diabetes for that matter. We do all of the hard work ourselves to get there. 
     We will be much better off putting our energy into incorporating a healthy diet for a healthy lifestyle. Eating as a person in a "weight loss zone" trying to avoid obesity by drinking slim fast shakes and eating meal replacement bars is not the real solution. "Workout foods" are basically the bars and products which are manufactured by "south beach diet" or other large corporations that advertise through mediums such as food.  Why doesn't a banana have a label on it saying it's great for part of a post-work out snack? Or a piece of chicken that has a label about it's wonders in building lean body mass. It almost makes too much sense.
     Ok, so what's your first step when eating during your healthy life style? You have to work with your metabolism (the rate at which we burn food for energy). Your metabolism is sky high in the morning! As the day goes on the rate of our metabolism slows down... This means we burn calories from the food we eat at a slower rate. That being said, when is the best time to eat a bigger meal of the day? Oh, "In the morning" you say?!?! You guessed right (if you are wrong, just go along with it!), eating a bigger meal in the morning versus at night 
will allow our bodies to burn more calories efficiently. This results in a smaller chance of excess "un-burned" calories from our meal. This is wonderful because all of those un-burned calories turn into storage (a very nice way of saying fat). 
    The next thing to think about is eating small meals (that contain both protein and carbohydrates) around every 3 hours. Think of your metabolism as a bond fire. In order to keep the fire going you can't just throw a gigantic log in it, you have to consistently feed it small pieces of wood. The same thing goes for our meals, eating a really big meal, aka a gigantic log, slows the metabolism down. In order to keep our metabolisms burning at a faster rate we need to eat small meals so we can burn up those calories more efficiently. Consistent small meals also tell the body that it doesn't have to go into starvation mode and hold onto fat for survival. If you are one that waits every 6 or 7 hours to eat something, you are asking your body to store fat and prepare for starvation (it's like a self defense mechanism). 
    Now, as your body adapts to this and you begin to detail your goals and activity, your body is going to require a more specific nutrition routine. That's where all the fun starts! Good Luck!

wait!!.... and one more tip. Try the three hour rule. Every time you are about to eat a meal, ask yourself "What is my body doing in the next 3 hours?". If the answer is running a marathon, you may want to kick the calories up a little bit! However, if the answer is taking a nap followed by TV, dropping some of those calories may be best. Learning to eat in relation to our calorie expenditure can be very beneficial.

OK, Now Good Luck for real!

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