What’s on your fork? What’s eating you? More importantly though, WHAT ARE YOU EATING? We talked about what “eats us” last time, when we addressed mindsets and adjusting our attitudes towards fitness and achieving. Today we introduce one of the most important aspects of that journey, drum roll please - FOOD. That’s right. Nutrition is one thing we seem to take for granted when we start on our fitness journey. Let’s break this down into steps by asking a few questions.
· What is nutrition? Simply put, it is the food and various ingredients that we put into ourselves so that our bodies can use them.
· Is there such a thing as bad nutrition? Yes there is. But perhaps let us answer this by looking at the extremes. Most of us tend to think of bad nutrition as excessive intake of nutrients, such as fats, sugars, but we seem to favour large amounts of protein. A recent study linked excessive amount of protein such as you find in shakes and supplements to shorter lifespans, meaning that even large protein amounts aren’t necessarily good for us. On the flip side, bad nutrition can constitute not eating nearly enough, in other words undereating. We see this in prevalent eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa.
Now the big question – How do we apply this to exercise? Let’s throw one more word into the mix. CALORIES. What’s a calorie? A lot of us equate calories with fat, but in fact they couldn’t be more different. They are related but different. Calories are a unit for measuring how much energy is produced specifically how much energy is needed to raise the temperature by 1 degree Celsius. So when you’re looking at that bar of chocolate and it says 250 calories, it’s not telling us how much fat is in it but how much energy is required to burn it up - if we literally set the bar of chocolate on fire.
As we exercise, we look at creating a balance between the energy we put in, which we are yet to burn and the energy we already burning up. So when you have burned 300 calories in your workout, what you’re saying is I have done enough to use up the energy in that bar of chocolate.
Now the question is how much should I be eating? Simply put, the answer is ENOUGH. What does that mean? If you’re losing weight you need to be putting less energy dense foods in so that you are burning up more than you are putting in, but this does not mean starving yourself. Alternatively if you are building muscle, your regime will involve more food but here I advocate for a more natural way to increase muscle mass. We will explore this further as we delve into the different types of fitness goals and how to monitor our nutrition. So until next time, keep well.