Diet – Key Points Dos and Don’ts

Some thoughts Q and A

What is a balanced diet and why we do need one?

A.  Opinions differ but  it is generally considered that you should get 45 to 65% of your day’s calories from carbohydrate, 10 to 35% percent from protein and 20 to 35% from fats.  The needs for athletes for protein is greater – perhaps several times greater – than that needed for health in a non athlete as recommended by say the WHO. There is no reason why you cannot have a higher percentage of fat or protein so these figures are indicators not cast iron rules.  Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/299559-how-much-carbs-fat-and-protein-should-you-eat-daily-to-lose-weight/#ixzz2Iu4sliPr

Where we get these nutrients from?

A. Everything you eat! Be aware that all is not what it seems, for example, red meat has a large minority percentage of fat. Some pulses are not all carbohydrate but have similarly large percentages of protein.

Why are microwave meals/fast-food bad?

A.  Most microwave or processed foods contain preservatives and “trans” fats which are artificial (synthetic) and there is evidence of damage done by these trans fats which are to be found in margarine and very many other processed foods. Avoid them where possible. Look at the labels!  (any reference to hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated refer to trans fats, as does “trans fatty acid”. Many vegetable oils  are partially hydrogenated. Mono- and diglycerides, are synthesised and contain trans fatty acids used as emulsifiers. Anything deep-fried will contain trans fats – think crisps, poppadums, cerials, bread (fish fingers and other breaded fish),  frozen pizzas & pot pies, ”nutri” and other sports bars, margarine, microwave popcorn (one of the worst), non-organic peanut butter (check for oil on the top to prove it is not), puddings etc all of which have trans fats used in the making.

What you should eat is unprocessed food, eggs, chicken fish and the occasional red meat.   Fresh fruit, in season vegetables especially leaf ones such as spinach, nuts, food with mono unsaturated fats (which are liquid at room temperature) and help slow down the absorbtion of glucose into the blood stream and are a healthy thing to eat (girls note!). Examples of such fats are avocado,  canola, nut, and olive oils.

Fish oils with Omega-3 eg cod liver oil or oily fish are to be encouraged specifically for good biochemical reasons.

What is calorie burning? What should our consumption v expenditure be?

A.  A muscle burns more calories than fat, according to the literature. Even when your body is at rest, you burn more calories with muscle mass than you do without. This is largely due to the fact that muscle is “metabolically” more active than fat, causing an increase in calories burned on any given day.  Food in should equal energy out.

4) GI What is it?

A.  Glycaemic index, (GI) of a food type provides a measure (usually a number out of a hundred) of how quickly blood sugar levels (i.e. levels of glucose in the blood) rise after eating a particular type of food. It is not good to have blood sugars high or low and the body does not like or tolerate high GI foods in frequent, regular intervals

Should I worry about weight-loss diets as shown in magazines?

A.  No if you are eating healthily.

When should I eat?

A. That depends on what you are eating.  If you are eating low GI it does not much matter unless you are exercising hard for more than 90 minutes. If you are doing two sessions one after the other, make sure to eat as soon as possible, during if possible  and within 20 mins of exercise.

Hydration – how much, when?  why and do it before you feel thirsty ?

A.  Staying hydrated is particularly important during exercise. Adequate fluid intake is essential to comfort, performance and safety. The longer and more intensely you exercise, the more important it is to drink the right kind of fluids. That is not sports drinks! Water is best.  You can make your own sports drinks if you know what you are doing but none of you is exercising hard enough to need a proper formulated protein and carbo sports drink. Opinions differ as to whether you get a better performance fully hydrated or with some water loss. There is evidence that runners perform better slightly less hydrated than maximally but for rowers in normal competition it is safer to assume that you drink before your outing and immediately after.  Only if you are doing lots of continuous work for several hours such as in a marathon do you NEED to drink durning exercise. That having been said if it hot you and you are losing lots of water you would be advised to drink after an hour or possibly less.

Bullet point diet advice

  • DO. Eat breakfast. Eat the right stuff – oats as a basis supplemented with protein such as fish, eggs, bacon etc. Fruit such as blueberries, rasberries, strawberries etc and fruit that is locally grown in season. Cut out strong tea and coffee.
  • DON’T.    Put sugar in tea, honey, jam etc on anything and eat it, eat any bread unless it is rye or low GI and whole grain in which case keep quantum down. Eat “normal” cerials most of which are incredibly high in sugar or have high GI effect
  • DO.  Eat food that is coloured. Generally if it is coloured it is better for you. Think red cabbage, tomato, lettuce, radishes, carrots, spinach, (cauliflower that is white is an exception  to the colour rule that you can eat), and if you have to (as it is high GI) beetroot, red grapes,  etc. Locally grown fruit in season is generally good.
  •  DON’T.    Drink processed fruit juices of any sort.  Eat fast food, be it processed in a shop and sold or in a fast food outlet.  Guidance here is to avoid anything with hydrogenated (trans) fats – check the labels as most fast food has it!  Anything deep-fried will contain trans fats – think crisps, poppadums, cerials, bread (fish fingers and other breaded fish),  frozen pizzas & pot pies, ”nutri” and other sports bars, margarine, microwave popcorn (one of the worst), non-organic peanut butter (check for oil on the top to prove it is not), puddings etc all of which have trans fats used in the making.  Generally, if it is white avoid it!

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