GENERAL HEALTH INFORMATION
You Are What You Eat...
Protein helps to maintain and replace the tissues in your body. Protein is essential in the development of muscle tissue.
Vegetable sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, and whole grains, are excellent choices, and they offer healthy fibre, vitamins and minerals. The best animal protein choices are fish and poultry. If you are partial to red meat, stick with the leanest cuts, choose moderate portion sizes, and make it only an occasional part of your diet.
Carbohydrates provide the body with fuel it needs for physical activity and for proper organ function.
The best sources of carbohydrates—whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans—promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fibre, and a host of important phytonutrients. Note that easily digested refined carbohydrates from white bread, white rice and other refined grains, pastries, sugared sodas, and other highly processed foods may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease.
Understanding Fats and Cholesterol
Not all fat is bad. Fats are an essential part of healthy eating so it’s good for you to eat a certain amount of the healthier fats.
Healthier fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats - omega-3 and omega-6. These fats reduce the 'bad' LDL cholesterol in your blood and increase the 'good' HDL cholesterol. This helps to lower your risk of getting heart disease.
A healthy balanced diet should include the healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. However, it’s not always easy to know where to find them or how to use them in meals. Below is a guide to using healthier fats in your meals and snacks.
• Monounsaturated fat is found in foods such as avocados, almonds, cashews, peanuts and cooking oils made from plants or seeds such as sunflower, canola, soybean, olive, sesame and peanut oils.
• Polyunsaturated fat (omega-6) is found in foods such as fish, tahini (sesame seed spread), margarine, linseed (flaxseed), sunflower and safflower oil, pine nuts and brazil nuts.
• Polyunsaturated fat (omega-3s) is found in oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines and blue mackerel as well as walnuts.
Unhealthy fats include saturated fats and trans fats. Too much saturated and trans fat contributes to the build up of fatty material, called plaque, on the inside of your blood vessels and is a major cause of heart disease. These fats can increase LDL cholesterol in our blood that leads to the plaque. Lowering saturated fat in the diet will help to lower LDL cholesterol.
1 teaspoon of sugar equals approximately 4 grams.
Table sugar (sucrose) is a disaccharide, containing both Glucose and Fructose. The body stores glucose as glycogen in the liver and in your muscles to use for energy. Essentially your body is a glucose processing factory.
If you consume more sugar than needed for daily energy requirements, the fructose content gets stored as fat. The fat tends to store in the lower abdominal area.
The World Health Prganisation recommends a maximum of just 6 teaspoons of sugar per day for adults and 3 for children.
Some foods that are high in sugar:
- Most breakfast cereals
- Fruit Juices
- Low fat foods tend to have a higher sugar content.
- Soft Drinks/Sports Drinks
- Cakes and Sweets
Note that sugar is in almost everything, so start reading food labels, and avoid any foods which are ‘low-fat’ or high in sugar!
Did you know that water makes up about two-thirds of our body weight? Most of the chemical reactions that happen in our cells need water. We also need water for our blood to be able to carry nutrients around the body.
So it makes sense to choose mainly water to drink. When the weather is warm or we are exercising, our bodies need more than usual.
Healthy heart tip: one of the first signs of dehydration is feeling thirsty. If you think you might not be getting enough fluids, other common signs of dehydration include headaches, confusion and irritability and lack of concentration. Carrying water with you to drink when you are out and about can help avoid dehydration, especially on warmer days.
If you don’t keep your fluid levels up, one of the first side effects you’ll feel is tiredness. This is because the first effects of dehydration is reduced blood flow. A lack of water may also trick you into feeling hungry.
By drinking regularly during exercise, athletes can prevent declines in concentration and skill level, improve perceived exertion, prevent excessive elevations in heart rate and body temperature and improve performance - good justification for every athlete and coach to make fluid replacement a key priority during training and competition.
A nibble between meals can get you through the day – as long as you choose wisely.
Snacking keeps the metabolism working and is important for weight loss and maintaining a healthy body.
Fruit is always a great choice or a handful of nuts is a good option.
Remember to take time to recover between hard training sessions (i.e. an easy walk or yoga class). A couple of recovery days a week will help give muscles and bones a chance to regenerate and reduce any inflammation.
Recovery encompasses a complex range of processes that include;
• refueling the muscle and liver glycogen (carbohydrate) stores
• replacing the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat
• manufacturing new muscle protein, red blood cells and other cellular components as part of the repair and adaptation process
• allowing the immune system to handle the damage and challenges caused by the exercise
Harvard School of Public Health - Protein
Harvard School of Public Health - Carbohydrates
Heart Foundation - Fats and Cholesterol
Heart Foundation - Healthy Fats
Heart Foundation - Water
Australian Institute of Sport - Fluid - who needs it?
Australian Institute of Sport - Recovery Nutrition
Diet Vs Cardio Vs Wt Training:
All of these factors contribute to body composition. Finding the right combination can be tricky and what works for one person, may not necessarily work for another. Having the DEXA scan will help determine if the program you’re on is working for you or if it may need some adjusting. Every body is different so don’t be discouraged. Combining your efforts with the help of a qualified instructor, whether it be a PT, Nutritionist or Exercise Physiologist, may help understand what is working for you and what efforts can be made to help you reach your target.
Body Composition Queensland provides this information for the benefit of readers, but is not responsible for its accuracy. Readers should research topics of interest and draw their own conclusions.
Body Composition Queensland does not necessarily endorse any of the organisations linked to this site.