In part 1, Ilana Katz talked about many of the reasons why you should consider using real food during training and racing. Then in part 2, she shared ideas about the what and how much! Now in our final installment, she gives us some best practices on balanced meals. Enjoy!
Balance your caloric intake (what you eat) and caloric expenditure (what you burn e.g. exercise) to attain and maintain your desired body weight. Overeating or lack of exercise will upset caloric balance and may result in weight gain.
Use recommended standard serving sizes for portion control. A “portion” is how much food you choose to eat, whether in a restaurant, from a package, or in your own kitchen. A “serving” is a standard amount set by the U.S. Government, or sometimes by others for recipes, cookbooks, or diet plans. Use the Food Guide Pyramid as a guide to see how many standard serving sizes you should eat from each food group.
Establish consistent eating patterns. Eat at least 3 meals per day with one healthy snack in-between each meal (totaling 5 – 6 smaller meals per day). Eating on a regular basis promotes sound nutrition, reduces stress, increases energy, prevents over-eating and helps control eating patterns. Never skip meals, especially breakfast. Eating every 3 hours or so aids in keeping your blood sugar normal and will raise your metabolism, allowing you to burn fat more efficiently.
Choose a variety of foods at each meal to maximize your nutrient intake. Color variety generally makes a meal more nutritious and psychologically satisfying.
Choose whole, fresh, and unprocessed foods. Fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole-wheat or wholegrain breads and cereals are always a good idea. These contain more nutrients and fiber and less sugar and salt.
Choose more dietary fiber. Fiber results in good digestion, regulation of blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and reduces the risk of digestive problems and colon cancer. Fiber also makes you feel full and prevents overeating. (Good sources: bran, wholegrains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, peas, brown rice, oatmeal and corn).
Choose unsaturated fats in place of saturated fats. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature (animal fats: butter, lard, etc.). Polyunsaturated fats are usually found in vegetable oils, omega 3 spreads, peanut butter, and fish (specially salmon and tuna). Monounsaturated fats are olives, peanuts, olive oil, canola oil, and avocados.
* Margarine may contain trans-fats – read food labels and avoid trans-fats as they behave like saturated fats.
Increase fluid intake. Drink 8 -10 glasses of fluid per day (at least 4 should be water). Proper hydration will prevent hunger and thirst. Beneficial fluids include water, low fat milk and other low sugar beverages.
Other healthy tips:
Eat less sodium Eat less cholesterol Eat less high-fat foods
Limit caffeine Limit alcohol Eat less sugar foods
ENJOY THE PLEASURES OF EATING BALANCED MEALS ON A REGULAR BASIS!