Are you under the impression that to lose weight you need to eat less?
But food is what provides the energy for your workouts and what helps you perform every action. The food we eat plays a vital role in how we look and feel. Regular exercise is important but nutrition has the largest impact on our fitness. Using food as our medicine has become a popular theme for health improvement. Making sure that you’re putting the right nutrients in your body throughout the day can ensure that you feel great while you’re building confidence and creating a harmonious relationship with your body.
Calories Are Energy
It’s simple. You want to perform, you need calories. To fuel your body, you need to eat enough calories to sustain your daily activities and your fitness routine. You’ve no doubt been introduced to calorie counting as a way to lose or manage weight. While this practice can be helpful for some, it’s extremely important to recognize that not all calories are created equal, and besides calorie counting is tedious and can affect you mentally. The calories from a fast food meal will not give you the same energy as the calories from a fresh chopped salad. Calorie intake is a daily balance of input and output. It is important to choose foods that are nutrient dense as the calories in these foods are packed with potential energy. When you fuel your body with a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and other nutrients, you are giving your muscles and other body systems the fuel they need to work at their peak.
Food Is Our Medicine
Nutrient-dense foods, or “superfoods,” include lean proteins, healthy carbohydrates, and fats essential to our health. Superfoods are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Antioxidants are shown to 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 removing harmful chemicals.
Some superfoods contain compounds that increase our metabolism for more efficient fat burning. Red peppers contain a molecule called capsaicin shown to enhance the rate we burn body fat.
Good daily nutrition habits will inevitably give you a leaner body that will be ‘insulin sensitive’. There has been a lot of focus on sugar and this is the main reason why. Insulin sensitivity means that your body is able to deal with sugar/glucose properly, using it in the right way, for energy, as opposed to storing it as fat. A diet high in processed foods and sugar will bombard the body with glucose, leading to an environment that is unable to cope, altering the body’s response to sugar. What this means is that instead of your body being able to use sugars for energy, they are instead stored as fat, levels of blood glucose remain at a constant high (a precursor to type 2 diabetes) and hormone levels can become disrupted – not good! The body has become insulin resistant if reacting in this way.
So What are Fitness Foods?
The term fitness food is interchangeable with superfoods. Eating a diet rich in fitness foods is essential to our health. Incorporating healthy nutrition and knowing what that means is vital to achieving a lean and healthy body.
The following is a list of foods favored by fitness enthusiasts:
- Oats (high in fiber, improves digestion/increases metabolism)
- Eggs (protein source, muscle building)
- Greens (antioxidants, reduces inflammation)
- Apples (antioxidants, reduces inflammation/increases metabolism)
- Lean meats/fish (amino acids, protein source, muscle building)
Eat Superfoods Daily
Superfoods play an important part in achieving and maintaining a healthy body. Nutritionists may vary in their lists of which foods are best but agree they’re all essential. Eating a wide variety of superfoods daily will satisfy nutrient requirements for optimal body functioning.
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)
- Green tea (antioxidants, increases metabolism, weight loss)
- Superseeds: Flaxseed, Quinoa etc (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)
So there’s a choice… If you want to feel good, look good, have lots of energy and have everything inside working at its best, developing a good daily nutrition habit is so important. Not only will you feel great, but also you will be protecting yourself against possible disease and future illness – that’s a reason if nothing else! That’s not to say you can’t have the odd treat, but at least if you do you can be confident that your body won’t be suffering as a consequence and you will continue to feel full of life and energy in your fitness journey.