Yes, we hate to tell you this but it IS about food! You still need to exercise, but if you put the wrong things in your body, you will not get great results. According to Lauren Tapp, M.S., C.S.C.S., Exercise Physiologist / Strength and Conditioning Coach, the article below gives you some some things to keep in mind about what you eat. In addition, please see our other articles about Food and Diet Myths - here's to healthy eating!
Good nutrition is not only the key to being a healthy person, but it is also very important for providing the energy we need to perform at our highest level. Without proper eating habits, you will only be holding yourself back from being a better, more fit athlete.
How you eat to build muscle:
In order to build muscle, you need to perform strength exercises 2-3 x per week. If you want to add a little more muscle to your frame, you will need to eat a sufficient amount of food to give your body the building blocks it needs to make more muscle. If you don’t eat enough, your muscles will not grow. You can still gain strength and lose body fat, but you won’t gain much muscle. Depending on your goals, you may need to eat more or less than you are already eating, or you may just need to change the types of food you eat. The best foods to eat are lean proteins such as chicken and fish, as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables, and high-complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and whole wheat pastas.
How you eat to slim down:
If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to reduce the amount of food you eat each day and add more activity to your daily routine. You should also avoid drinking your calories (limit soda and juice) and eat most of your calories in healthy foods that are lower in sugar and fat. Foods high in fiber like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help you feel full for a longer period of time so you won’t be hungry as often. Finally, choose healthy snacks, and drink lots of water.
The bottom line is that if you use more energy than you get from the food you eat, you will lose body fat. It’s important to keep exercising while you are decreasing your food intake so that you maintain your muscle.
Even small changes can make a big difference over time.
How you eat to improve your brain - get smarter!
Your brain can only function at its best if you have enough energy in your body to fuel it. The brain carbohydrates (bread, fruit, potatoes, etc.) are its main source of fuel so it’s important to make sure you get enough of these types of foods in order for your brain to be at its best! In addition, foods high in folic acid (spinach and orange juice), vitamin C (strawberries and citrus fruits) and vitamin E (carrots and sweet potatoes) help your brain function better as well. Other foods that increase brain power are raisin bran, cranberries, eggs, and fish.
What is healthy eating?
Healthy eating can include a variety of different things. In general, you want to make sure you are getting most of your energy from whole grain carbohydrates (pasta, cereal, bread, potatoes), a variety of fruits and vegetables, and healthy fat sources (peanut butter, almonds, avocado, olive oils). Good rule of thumb is to have colorful meals to ensure you are including a variety of foods. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fat and sugar like cakes, candy and soda and reserve these treats for special occasions. You should pay attention to the amount of food you are eating and how much you actually need. Eat your meals slowly as it may take time for your brain to realize you’ve had enough. This will keep you from overeating. Finally, drink plenty of water!
Why should I eat healthy?
Eating healthy will not only protect your organs like your heart, liver, and kidneys from being damaged, but you will have more energy and feel better. It will help you get through a tough day of school, after-school practice, and homework at night. Eating healthy will also allow you to get a good night’s sleep and have the energy to wake up the next day and do it all over again. As you get older, your body will continue to be healthy and will be kind to you by getting injured less and allowing you to maintain an active lifestyle.
Eat 5 to 6 small meals per day.
Eating several smaller meals throughout the day will keep your blood sugar steady and maintain a constant supply of energy to your muscles. Your metabolism will stay elevated, burning more calories throughout the day. Waiting too long in between meals will often lead to feeling starved, which may lead to poor meal choices later on and probably consuming more calories, which will eventually lead to weight gain.
Examples of healthy snacks:
For some people, snacking can lead to many extra calories in a day. It’s important to choose healthy snacks that will keep you fueled throughout the day. Some examples of healthy snacks are:
-Apple with peanut butter
-Whole wheat crackers and hummus
-1/2 peanut butter & jelly sandwich
What fast food does to your body.
Fast food is convenient and can’t always be avoided. Most fast food is high in calories, salt, saturated fat, and sugar. It may taste good while going down, but over time it can do real damage to your body. Too much salt increases your blood pressure, while sugar may cause diabetes, both leading to cardiovascular problems. Because it’s high in calories it will lead to weight gain while the high content of saturated fat clogs the arteries and puts undue stress on the heart and the rest of the body.
If you must eat fast food, there are healthier choices you can make. Most fast food chains offer salads, grilled chicken, fruit cups, and soups. These would be healthier choices over a double cheeseburger, french fries, sodas, and milkshakes. If you have a terrible craving for some of this “junk food”, go ahead and have it- but just a small portion. For example, if you are craving a double cheeseburger with fries, order a kid’s meal with smaller portions. This way, you won’t feel deprived but you won’t do too much damage.
For an interesting study about how fatty foods effect your body, CLICK HERE and let us know what you think.
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