Quality Fuel For Activity
By Patricia Chuey, Senior Nutrition Consultant, SportMedBC
Week 3 of Sun Run InTraining! The next focal point in the steps to victory is the quality of the fuel going into your muscles. In addition to starting with a balanced breakfast and staying evenly fueled throughout the day, the nutrient density of a food is a critical consideration. Avoid choosing food for what it lacks such as ‘no trans fat’ or ‘gluten-free.’ Instead ask “what does this food have?” or “what am I about to eat?” For example, is it a good source of protein, fibre, iron, calcium or quality energizing carbohydrates?
There is no food police. We can eat anything and everything we want – anytime. Ideally however, for optimal health and performance, aim to make healthy choices at least 80% of the time. Healthy eaters are less likely to be impressed by quantity in eating (all-you-can-eat buffet) and are much more excited by quality (fresh, wholesome, local when available).
To optimize quality in food choices:
1. Think quality. Ask: “Is this a quality breakfast, lunch or dinner? What might be lacking?” Perhaps it needs more protein, more fibre or more vegetables?
2. Go with brown, not white. With cake it makes no difference, with grains it does. Choose brown bread, rice, pasta and cereals over white or beige versions. Check labels and choose those with the most grams of fibre. Fibre promotes regularity. Lesser known is the vital role it plays in sustaining energy – making the food we eat last a little longer before we feel hungry again. This is helpful in weight and blood sugar control.
3. In most meals, make vegetables cover half the plate. Balance the meal off with lean protein foods and whole grains. The more naturally and deeply coloured the meal looks, the higher quality it will be.
4. Due to sodium or sugar content, choose fresh food over canned as much as possible. With fruits and vegetables in the winter months, frozen can be a great option. Even canned tomatoes mid-winter are often better than fresh ones that might look a little anemic.
5. Apply quality thinking to beverages. Go with a cup or two a day of quality, satisfying coffee or tea instead of too many cups of either that leave you wanting. Although it shouldn’t be a steady part of your training diet, if having wine or other alcoholic beverages, opt for quality to satisfy early and reduce the need for an excess amount. For people trying to stay in a healthy weight range, minimize juice intake and know that whole fruit is always a better, higher fibre choice. If opting for juice, make it 100% real. Avoid or seriously limit pop and imposter juices made of excess sugar.
6. If you dine out a lot, choose restaurants that you know can provide the quality items we’re talking about here. Pale, light green iceberg lettuce on a white bun with salty processed meats is not good quality. Dark green lettuce, tomato, bell peppers and other vegetables on a whole grain bun with turkey, chicken, lean roast beef, grilled tofu or hummus on the other hand = Top notch quality!
For quality training sessions, fuel your body with quality food!