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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Healthy Eating—Super Bowl Mistakes



Healthy Eating—Super Bowl Mistakes

Hope everyone has had a great weekend! Its super bowl Sunday! The big day. Actually, Did You Know Super Bowl Sunday is the second biggest eating day of the year in the United States. Thanksgiving is the biggest. It is also estimated that $50 million is spent on food including Super Bowl Sunday and the three days prior to the game. 


Staggering Hypothesis:
Americans will woof down 1.23 billion wings during the game. Unfortunately there will be a wing shortage! What will the American citizens do without their wings!?

Now, I’m not a food expert or a nutritionist, but I tend to give good advice in this topic because of all the knowledge I have gained over the years through personal experience.  

Rule Number One: Everyone’s Body Processes Food Differently! Plain and Simple. You have to find what works for you! There is no “key” diet that will certainly work! Everyone is different and you have to play with them until you find the perfect match!

I don’t like to write about food and diets because It’s not my specialty, but I will give you a few words of wisdom for your day!

I Run, So I Can Get Away With Eating Whatever I Want!
False! Sorry, but many runners have horrible diets.  You know it’s true! So many times I hear runners telling me, “Oh, I ran 4 miles and burned this amount of calories, so I can eat ____.” You fill in the blank! You’ve said it.  But here’s reality for you.  Sooner or later your body won’t metabolize food like a 17 year old boy anymore and you will pack on the pounds quicker than you even can notice! I will be the first to tell you just how difficult and altering a little 5-10lb gain is to your body! It puts so much more stress on your knees and joints! Next time you’re at the gym, grab a 10lb weight and try jumping on boxes with it or running on the treadmill and you will see EXACTLY what I am talking about! Not Easy! Imagine adding that weight to your body while hoping to PR at your next 5k.  That’s why nutrition is essential for the runner’s body! Not only for performance, but also appearance!

Here are just a few of my favorite books that talk about the importance of nutrition for athletes!



Now, judging from these books, many of you probably think I promote a Paleolithic diet. 

Review:

Paleo Diet: Tries to emulate what humans evolved to eat, focusing on vegetables, meat, seeds and nuts, seafood, and some fruit. It avoids grains, sugar, salt, processed oils, and all processed food. That’s right, no Fruity Pebbles.

I have experienced this diet, however, it is not suitable for runners.  Runners need complex carbohydrates to fuel workouts. It is impossible for endurance athletes to eat so little carbs and maintain their physical status and keep strong training runs.  By limiting carbs as an endurance athlete, you are putting yourself at serious risk for injury, hair loss, sudden weight loss, appetite issues, hormone imbalances, and sleep problems! I have tried this diet as an endurance athlete and I will speak single handedly for everyone! It is awful and should NEVER be done!

BUT, our diets should be close!

Eat Real Food

The common theme throughout all of these books (including Michael Pollan’s books, which do not promote paleo) is simplicity. The perfect human diet is focused on real food, not food products that were made in a lab.

Michael Pollan said it best: Eat food, mostly plants, not too much. But what does this quote mean in practice?

Don’t we all do this every single day? No, some of us don’t. Many people eat things that shouldn’t be considered real food, things like:
  • Muffins
  • Donuts (my personal kryptonite – I love them!)
  • Lunchables
  • Boca burgers
  • Almost everything at Burger King, McDonald’s or any other fast food restaurant
  • Pizza
  • Soda
These things are created in a food lab. Have you ever looked at the ingredients list for pizza? You’re going to read things like guanylate, carrageenan, xanthan gum, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, and autolyzed yeast extract. No thanks, these aren’t for me.

If your great great grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, then it’s not food.

Eat Plants
Vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds all have very high nutritional content! The will give your body what it needs to perform and recover! I aim to eat 4-5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day, along with handfuls of nuts and seeds.

My only advice is that you stick to the unsalted nuts!

Not Too Much
You could be eating all the right foods but you still have to watch portions otherwise it’s possible to still gain weight. However, the weight you would gain if eating healthy would be muscle as compared to the fat you would gain from those Oreos. Here are a few tricks to eat a little less:
  • Serve dinner on smaller plates
  • Don’t keep bowls of food on the table – keep them on the counter. You’ll eat less.
  • Eat slower – chew longer and take short breaks in between every few bites
  • You don’t need dessert
  • Drink a big glass of water before dinner
You don’t have to count calories or limit.  Just stick to eating healthy and having reasonable portions.  If your still hungry, eat more! Try to eat a variety of food as well! You will see the full benefit all all the nutrients.

There has been a lot of talk about intermittent fasting.  This is a type of diet where you go for a long period of time without eating. It is supposed to help your body utilize fat and burn more of it.  I have experimented with this diet on several occasions and turned out to have both positive and negative effects.  Here is a article about a few benefits:

I would not recommend this for runners, simply because you have to be fueled all day long for training. Maybe a sedentary office worker looking to lose weight, but not you.  Your body constantly needs fuel to keep your metabolism thriving and help fuel your body!

So let’s look at a few main principles you should look at when focusing on your diet.  Especially for runners and endurance athletes, the main thing is not to FOCUS in on some magic food or pill that does the trick.  It will drive yourself crazy and quite honestly, none of them work! Just stick to a few healthy eating principles here and you will be far better off!
  1. Eat unprocessed, real food. This means vegetables, meat, fruit, and nuts. No pop-tarts or “food product.”
  2. Eat vegetables with at least two of your daily meals if you have trouble meeting your daily amount at dinner.
  3. Don’t freak out about dairy – if you tolerate it, enjoy it, and it’s a normal part of your diet then you can keep consuming it.
  4. If a food comes in a package and has a health claim on it, be skeptical. Look at the ingredients list and try to buy the product with the least ingredients.
  5. Vegetarian or meat-eater? I’m convinced the ideal human diet includes meat. We evolved eating it and numerous studies strongly show that we thrive eating meat. If possible, choose grass-finished, humanely raised animals. I could write volumes on the subject, but pick up a copy of the Paleo Diet for Athletes for more reading.
  6. Almost all runners can cut back on their carbs.  Too many carbohydrates can make you gain weight, get cavities, and even have high triglycerides and cholesterol. Focus on healthy sources like fruit, yams, quinoa, wild rice, and beans (in moderation; they can irritate some people). Most runners should avoid sugar 99% of the time!
  7. On beverages: coffee and tea are good for you (skip the added sugar/whipped cream). So is red wine, but limit your alcohol consumption to about two drinks. Drinking more ruins your sleep and recovery, dehydrates you, and lowers testosterone levels (very bad for women too!)
  8. Dietary cholesterol has no impact on blood cholesterol (i.e., eat whole eggs).
  9. Don’t overindulge to excess, even on healthy foods. Moderation is wise with almost everything.
  10. Yes, it’s okay to cheat once in awhile. Especially if you just rocked a long run.

So unfortunately, those Starbucks cappuccinos won’t cut it. So many times I get asked questions about diets and I look to find the main culprit being their coffee choice. Visit Starbucks website and take a look at the calories counts of what you’re drinking! One cup could be packing over 150 grams of sugar!

So let’s stick to the main principle here.  The 80/20 rule. Eat healthy 80% of the time and you are living a healthy balanced life! It’s perfectly okay to indulge a little bit but you must be aware of what you’re eating and that you need to get yourself right back on track afterward! No week long diet busters.  For the amount of hard work you put in the gym and track, why negate it with a few episodes of Ben & Jerry’s?

Until Next Time,
Have a great SuperBowl Sunday and Enjoy your Day!
Mike Over
CPT/ Strength & Conditioning Specialist

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