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EAT TO WIN!

Proper diet and nutrition is a must for all athletes looking to achieve top results. What you eat is of utmost importance and is reflected in your performance. You can train very hard but if you do not have a proper healthy eating plan then you will never reach your peak (fitness, speed, strength etc.). Imagine two professional sprinters both are exactly the same in every way (cloning experiment!) except that one eats a properly balanced diet and the other lives on junk food If they were to race, I know which one I'd put my money on! Eating properly is not just of high importance to athletes but indeed anybody looking to lead a healthy, energetic lifestyle. The right balanced diet will promote muscle toning, decrease fat, increase energy and quicken recovery time from injury. Does this not sound great?

Okay then, now the hard part. We know that we all should eat right and that we will be better and feel better as a result..but..how do we do it and what do we eat? There are so many differing opinions on this subject that it can be very over whelming when you first try to organize a proper eating plan. So, lets keep it simple and stick to the basics:

WHAT TO DRINK:
1st on the list - Water, water and more water. Most of us don't drink enough water. We are predominantly made up of water and we need it to perform all of our bodily functions. No need to drown yourself just keep sipping away throughout the day and don't wait to be thirsty. Good athletes are always well hydrated, especially before an event.

Fruit & vegetable juices are okay but you are better off eating the fruits and the vegetables.

Milk can be a good source of protein & calcium. Fat free is best for those looking to lower body fat.

WHAT NOT TO DRINK:
Tea, coffee, sugary drinks, alcohol! All of these are stimulants, which can negatively affect your body rhythms. Top athletes stay away from these drinks. If you find this unimaginable then just try to reduce your intake of these drinks.

WHAT TO EAT:
Natural foods - Cereals, grains, beans, lean meats, fish, brown bread, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, eggs (egg whites are best), potatoes, fruit and vegetables. Use seasoning to increase taste: green pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, lemon, or cilantro. You can also get away with low fat mayonnaise, low fat cheese and fat free yogurt.

WHAT NOT TO EAT:
This could be a huge list so the mains ones are: sugar or sugary foods, salt or high sodium foods, butter, sauces or full-fat anything!

HOW TO PREPARE FOOD:
Do grill, bake, barbecue, boil, steam or microwave.

HOW NOT TO PREPARE THE FOOD:
Don't fry oil adds unnecessary saturated fat to food and yes, this is bad. Even shallow frying should be avoided.

WHEN TO EAT:
Always eat breakfast. This should be your biggest meal of the day. Then Lunch second and your smallest meal should be your evening meal. Eating lots of small meals is good too. Infact, eating more often can actually help you to lose weight your body tends not to store as much fat when it is fed regularly (approx. every 3 hours). Try not to eat four hours before bedtime if you do then this food will not be fully digested or burnt off.

MEAL IDEAS:

Breakfast:
Porridge, weetabix or museli with skimmed milk. Brown bread toast with low fat spread. A boiled egg. A bananna. Water.

Lunch:
Turkey sandwich (low fat spread on brown bread, lettuce, tomato. Or Natural peanut butter sandwich Or Tuna sandwich.

Dinner:
Wholemeal pasta or brown rice and a chicken fillet. Side salad without dressing.

Snacks:
Fruit, vegetables, popcorn (unsalted), cereal.

Finally, a good tip: Don't go grocery shopping when you're hungry. You'll only end up buying too much stuff and mostly junk that's bad for you!



By Robert Devane