Sunday, June 9, 2013

Connections Between Food and Exercise

               Many humans living in first world countries don't engage in strenuous physical activity often. For a large majority of people exercise is low on their list of priorities. They know that they should be exercising, but they don't. If they do happen to begin an exercise program, it is rare for a person to adopt it into their life permanently.  Part of the problem was discussed last week; people don't know how to create effective exercise programs. Another factor that I believe plays a major role is diet, or food choices.
               Here is what my own experiences have shown me. Using my body for exercise gives me a large amount of feedback about how my body is performing. Because of my exercise routine I have become aware of how my body is affected by my water intake, carbohydrate, fat and protein intake, by different sleep and rest patterns. Before I used my body seriously, and had a baseline of performance, I didn't realize that my everyday food choices directly correspond to how I feel.
               From speaking with friends, family, people I train with and individuals at different gyms, I find that many people eat their meals by default. They pickup what is easy and what they are used to. This isn't necessarily a problem, unless the person in question wants their body to feel good and perform well.
               When a person begins a new exercise program, they often complain of feeling terrible or not having energy. Part of that is because they are out of shape. However, I am in shape, and that is exactly how I felt the week after my last fight when I went crazy and ate a 'normal' American diet. I ate lots of bread, a lot of meat, few vegetables and probably twenty scones. I drank a beer, maybe two every other night and at the end of the week I felt terrible. When I started doing timed exercises again at the end of the week, while still eating poorly, my reps on pushups, sit ups, burpies and squats had all dropped. I didn't even want to get out of bed. It took me about another week of eating clean to get back to where I felt good exercising.
               Now my diet wasn't even that extreme compared to what the average American eats. I ate no fast food, most of the bread was 'healthy' and the meat was often grass fed. What I am suggesting with all of this, is that if you are having a hard time sticking with an exercise program, look into your food choices. Try changing to healthy alternatives. If you want an idea of what that looks like, look into the USDA's MyPlate food suggestions. They aren't perfect, I don't agree with all of them, but it is a good baseline to work from. If you have a reasonably healthy diet, exercise is far easier.
               Once you have a decent diet, play around with your macronutrient intakes (carbs, protein, fat) and see what feels best for your body when you are exercising. Every human has a system of feedback built into their body. To benefit from it, you must listen to it. Unless you are going to go talk to a professional dietitian, you are the best judge of what you should be eating because you know how it makes you feel. Are their athletes who eat like shit? Yes. Are they the best that they can be. Probably not. Our bodies are a complex mix of chemical reactions, what you put into it does matter.


 Lastly, a website I found helpful.              www.supertracker.usda.gov

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