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menI recently read a post by Cynthia Sass in the Huffington Post Healthy Living section on 5 mistakes people make with food and exercise that I thought I would summarize and share.  I have seen these same issues with people who I know.  Fix these missteps and the author feels you can better reap the rewards of all of your hard work.

  • Eating Too Little Fat – It seems like people these days are super fearful of fat.  Despite recommendations to include good fats in diet, people stay clear of any fat, often reaching for fat-free options.  Cutting back on fat too much can lead to fatigue, hunger, irritability, depression, weak immune system, and can increase risk of injury.  It is more of the most important nutrients in your diet.  Even if you are trying to reduce body fat, including good fats in your diet is essential to your health.  Look to add things like almond butter, avocado, or olive oil to get the fats you need.
  • Using A Sports Drink When You Really Don’t Need One – As a rule of thumb, if you are exercising less than 90 minutes in a climate controlled gym, water is all you need.  Sports drinks are for folks that work out for more than 90 minutes in hot or humid conditions.  They are meant to keep you going when you can’t stop to eat.  Sports drinks contain a lot of sugar so unless you are really pushing it, stick to water.
  • Not Eating After A Workout Because You’re Afraid To “Eat Back” What You’ve Burned – You may not want to over eat after a workout but you do need some nutrition to heal the body from wear and tear that you put on your body.  Again, you don’t want to overdo eating after a workout but eat with a goal in mind of delivering nutrients to your body to aid in recovery.
  • Only Eating Protein Post Workout – Protein is only one of the key nutrients for recovery.  You also need your share of healthy fat, whole grains and produce.  These help do things such as replenish nutrients, supply antioxidants, help muscles heal, replete glycogen, and optimize circulation.
  • Doubling Up On Recovery Meals – The author recommends eating something like a natural bar or shake 30 minutes before the end of a tough training or game to start the recovery process.  This has shown to maximize healing.  However, she recommends this for your pro athlete clients.  For the average person this can be overkill if it is followed by a full recovery meal.  As a tip she recommends that if you are going to eat within an hour after leaving the gym, skip the snack and wait for the meal.
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1294539597440633048bananaBananas are considered one of natures “super foods” because it is rich in vitamins and minerals.  It also had four times the protein and twice the health carbs as apples.  They are the perfect snack for anyone but a recent study has shown bananas are especially good for endurance athletes in maintaining stamina. . . even better than sports drinks.  The study was sponsored by Dole Foods and conducted by Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab.   The study centered on the health benefits of bananas for athletic performance.  In the study, 14 cyclists were divided into 2 groups.  One group drank a cup of ports drink every 15 minutes for a 75 kilometer simulated road race.  The other group ate a half of a banana every 15 minutes for the same distance.  Through blood tests, researchers were able to see:

  • Bananas contained healthier sugars than the sports drinks.
  • Bananas had greater nutritional benefits than the sports drinks.  Nutrients include fiber, potassium and vitamin B-6.
  • Bananas are rich in anti-oxidants.

Though this study focused on cyclists it looks like bananas might be healthier alternative to sports drinks for all athletes.

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