Exercise is important; nutrition is king
Brendan Rolfe, CPHR, BA, DipA
Did the holidays put you in a foodie funk? Not getting the results you want despite working your hiney off in the gym? Leery of another fad diet?
BAM! Kick your nutrition up a notch in 2017 to get better return on your sweat equity, boost your energy, and maybe even kick pain to the curb. Abuse of Chef Emeril’s catchphrase aside, it seems only fitting to give a sneak peek of this year’s hottest fitness nutrition trends.
This snapshot of health and fitness trends isn’t intended to endorse or recommend. Furthermore, not every trend or way of eating is right for every person. Before beginning a new diet or exercise program, always check with your health care practitioner to make sure it’s right for you.
Remember when juicing was all the rage? People would take countless pieces of fruit and pounds of greens and come out with half a glass of juice. The concept behind juicing is to extract the nutrients without putting a major dent in one’s daily caloric intake allowance.
The problem? Well, aside from the toll it takes on one’s wallet, it’s wasteful and can potentially lead to issues with diabetes (due to larger intake of sugars from juice, whereas pulp consumption is thought to help regulate this). Instead of counting calories, count on the fact that eating good, nutritious fruits and veggies is the way to go. Rather than juicing your fruits and vegetables, eat them whole or blend them and get the full, juicy, fibrous, textured benefits nature intended.
That’s right, you read correctly. Studies have shown that eating a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, and fish with higher fat content can help aid weight loss. A fringe benefit? These unsaturated fatty foods are thought to help quiet cravings and make us feel fuller after eating, decreasing the urge to snack.
Here’s the kicker: eating excessive animal fats is still not good for us and can contribute to heart disease. Included in this category are trans fats and saturated fats that come from fried and generally processed foods.
Instead, focus on foods that contain healthy fats, such as avocados, coconuts, cashews, salmon, and eggs. Because these foods have high fat content, they are high in calories, but since we aren’t counting calories, this shouldn’t bother us!
One eating strategy that is gaining support is called intermittent fasting (IF). Basically, under this strategy, one eats normally for five days per week, supplemented by two days per week of fasting (generally not taken back-to-back). On these two days, one fasts for 16 hours, with an eight-hour window in which one may eat.
Does it sound impossibly intimidating? It shouldn’t. Let’s say you sleep for eight hours per night; there’s half your fasting time right there. If you stop eating the night before at 7 pm, skip breakfast, and take lunch the next day to 12 pm, you’ve done your time.
Head nutritional expert at Precision Nutrition, Dr. John M. Berardi, says he is “a professional dieter. In other words, [he] done nearly every diet or nutritional protocol that’s around to test its efficacy.”
There are a handful of different IF strategies, but Berardi finds this version the most successful. “Over the course of six months, I dropped 20 pounds of weight, from 190 pounds to 170 pounds,” he says. “I also reduced my body fat from 10 percent to 4 percent while maintaining most of my lean muscle mass … Simply, I accomplished the goals I set for myself in a way that was easier and less time-consuming than ‘traditional’ dieting.”
There has also been some animal-based evidence to support IF as a way to battle diseases such as cancer and promote positive cholesterol. However, research is admittedly in its infancy.
The concept is simple: don’t purchase or eat foods that have been transformed prior to your own actions. This means that most cereals are off the table, as well as bread (unless you make your own flour), pasta, cheese, and processed foods.
Eating straight from the source means buying meats or fish, fruits, vegetables, and grains in their most basic forms and either transforming them yourself or consuming them as is. This achieves two keys to optimal health:
To supplement or not to supplement, that is the question! In terms of fitness nutrition, there are two types of supplements: supplements that are designed to fill nutritional gaps and supplements that are designed to enhance performance. The reality of today’s on-the-go diets, for many people, is that perhaps they are not getting the nutrients their bodies need for optimal function. Conversely, those who are more fitness- and sports-inclined may think they need “performance enhancing” supplements to give them that extra boost.
This is where registered dietitians such as Diana Steele of Eating for Energy Nutritional Services are extremely valuable. As Steele warns, “Mega-dosing has become a trend these days, but more is not always better. For most of the water-soluble vitamins, your body will only absorb what it needs and the excess will be excreted in your urine. Some vitamins taken in excess can result in uncomfortable side effects, such as mega doses of vitamin C, which can cause stomach problems and diarrhea.”
Iron and vitamin A can also cause problems when taken in doses that are too high. Similarly, protein supplementation has become all the rage in fitness and athletics, but again, more is not always better. As Steele alludes to, you may just be increasing the value of your pee. Visit a registered dietitian, a registered holistic nutritionist, or your local health food store today to see which supplements may be right for you!