- NEVER skip breakfast--this important meal of the day helps to improve alertness and concentration. Eating breakfast can also reduce appetite during the day so you'll eat less and therefore lessen your risk of becoming overweight or obese. Breakfast may also lessen your risk of type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Recommended foods for breakfast include whole-grain bread or cereal, fruit, plain Greek yogurt, peanut butter, eggs, and oatmeal.
- Eat carbs--your body prefers carbs as its primary fuel source. A combination of simple and complex carbs is best to provide an optimum supply of quick- and long-term energy, respectively. Quick-term energy is the energy your body uses for a relatively intense activities for short durations. Your blood sugar level rises and falls within a short time period lasting from about 30 minutes to an hour. Examples of simple carb foods include fruits, vegetables, white rice, white bread, pasta and honey. These are the types of foods you should eat soon after completing a workout. Long-term energy is the energy your body uses for less intense activities for long durations. Your blood sugar level is relatively maintained for longer periods of time (e.g., several hours). Examples of complex carb foods include whole-grain bread and starchy vegetables (e.g., potatoes, carrots). These are the types of foods you should eat before your workout. Complex carb foods have fiber to allow for slower digestion and absorption of nutrients.
- Eat fats--fats are a concentrated source of energy (i.e., 7 kcals per gram compared to 4 kcals per gram found in carbs). Stick with unsaturated fats like olive oil, avocados and nuts.
- Eat protein--you should think of protein as the macronutrient that's responsible for maintaining the structural integrity of your body (i.e., bones, muscles, etc.) as well as the functioning of hormones and enzymes. Protein is needed for a healthy immune system. Recommended protein foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, soy, and dairy products.
- Drink plenty of water--water is essential for your body to transport energy molecules and vitamins and minerals.
- Eat more frequently--providing a continual source of fuel for your body every three to four hours is a healthy way to eat and may prevent feelings of fatigue or malaise. This also ensures your body receives a regular supply of vitamins and minerals.
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."