At holihealth we volunteer as Sun Run leaders and are often asked “what do I eat before and after a workout” and “what about race day”? These are great questions but what about what you eat EVERYDAY for maximum energy, enhanced performance and most importantly, for overall health.
Over 50,000 people participate in the 10 Km Vancouver Sun Run each year. For many, participating may be an opportunity to meet people in their community or a chance to get back in shape after the holiday season. This annual event also gets people outside, moving and participating in other fundraising events that take place in the warmer months. This social, community involvement combined with good nutrition are key to a healthy balanced life.
So whether you’re part of the Sun Run, a frequent exerciser or just starting to think about getting active here are a few basic steps you can follow every day to maximize your energy and FEEL GREAT.
STEP #1 FUEL YOUR BODY WITH NUTRIENTS
Food is more than calories it is nutrients. Nutrients build and regenerate blood, bone, muscle and fat as well as provide energy to keep your brain and body functioning. They are essential for every system and process in your body. Nutrition is our fuel, and proper nutrition not only keeps you alive, it keeps you feeling vital and energized.
Eat to nourish yourself, not just feed yourself, by consuming good quality whole foods in forms closest to the way nature designed them. Eat foods with lots of colour and textures, combining raw, steamed and baked items.
Whole foods contain macronutrients like protein, fats and complex carbohydrates as well as micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. These are the building blocks used to build and repair the body, a constant and continuous job.
STEP #2 DRINK WATER
Water does not supply nutrients or calories but drinking it is one of the easiest and most simple steps you can take to improve how you look, feel and perform. Headache as well as physical and mental fatigue are the most common symptoms of dehydration. Staying hydrated is especially important with sweating, in warmer temperatures and when exercising.
The body is made up of 70% water, which needs to be replenished regularly. Adequate hydration ensures cells, muscles and joints are properly lubricated; it allows for nutrients and oxygen to be transported to cells; and it helps the body flush out unwanted toxins through its natural detoxification mechanisms.
Add fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet for additional sources of hydration.
STEP #3 REDUCE STRESS
One of the many virtues of physical movement is that it is a natural stress reliever, anti-depressant and mood lifter. Much of the stress we experience is beyond our personal control, but one stress that we can control and prevent is Nutritional Stress
Nutritional Stress is the stress put on your body when you eat processed, refined, de-natured, nutrient-deficient, poor quality foods. These ‘food-like’ substances stress your body and impair its ability to support your biological functions. They significantly reduce your ability to fight disease.
As a start think NUTRIENTS as mentioned in Step #1, stick to the perimeter of the supermarket and don’t forget to eat foods with lots of color. If your Grandmother would have recognized the food or ingredient then it’s probably ok for you and your family.
STEP #4 AVOID/REDUCE SUGAR
Sugar gives you an instant boost in energy and a nice little “high”. Unfortunately, that boost is quickly followed by plummeting blood sugar, leaving you feeling tired, cranky and craving more sugar. This addictive substance does not provide sustainable energy, it causes weight gain, weakens the immune system, provides no nutrient value of its own and it uses other nutrients to metabolize.
For those with a sweet tooth, take solace in the fact that the more you reduce sugar intake, the more the natural occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables and grains will be enhanced.
STEP #5 BALANCE BLOOD SUGAR
At every meal and snack eat a combination of foods that burn nice and slow, like complex carbohydrates (hint: complex carbohydrates are easy to remember, they are the ones with all the color) with some lean protein and a little bit of fat. This combination slows digestion and the release of sugar into the blood stream allowing for a steady supply of energy.
To ensure you blood sugar stays steady, eat the above combination of foods starting with the most important meal of the day – breakfast. After breakfast continue to small meals about every 3 hours. Be careful not to increase your overall caloric intake, just spread it evenly throughout the day.
Eating to balance blood sugar provides a consistent supply of fuel and energy to your brain and body so you feel better, remain sharp and maintain physical endurance throughout the day.
STEP #6 DIGEST
You are not only what you eat, you are what you absorb.
The digestive system needs to be set up for success and that starts with eating slowly and chewing your food. Eating small meals (so as not to overburden your system), don’t drink too much liquid with meals, as this will dilute digestive juices and enzymes, and try not to eat while stressed or on the run.
I don’t know about you, but my mother was always telling me to slow down and chew my food. Of course, she was right, as she was about many things, but that’s a whole other blog for another time. And don’t forget the other habit that many of our parents engaged in after dinner, a gentle stroll around the neighbourhood. This little bit of exercise after dinner ensures consistent and gentle movement of food though the digestive system and allows the body time to absorb the nutrients it needs.
These are just a few steps to keep you healthy and mobile. If you are looking for a place to start then think about joining a walk/run clinic and visit holihealth for nutritional support.
Visit holihealth regularly to learn more strategies for a holistic and preventative approach to wellbeing. If you would like help in learning how to implement and practice a holistic approach contact us or read about our FEEL GREAT in 8 that will provide you all the tools, support and strategies you need to live a healthy life.