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July 2020 Newsletter
We hope you are all well in the middle of a summer which is not like any other before. This month we have decided to provide some knowledge on an essential part of our life, food. Fortunately, taking pleasure in food is not inconsistent with protecting our health. There are some principles which we will remind of. For the ones exercising regularly we will also advise on what is best to eat before, during and after a training session.
Our body is like a machine, it needs fuel to work. What we eat is also what we are made of: water, carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates and fats provide energy while proteins, vitamins and minerals have other key functions in our metabolism such as bolstering the immune system, repairing cellular damage or acting as messenger.
Carbohydrates (pasta, potatoes, rice, bread, fruits) contain the nutrients that are converted the fastest into energy. They are stored mainly in the muscles and the liver, and their storage is somehow limited, which is why they are required on a daily basis. Depending on the structure of the carbohydrate molecules, the process of digestion can take place rapidly (fast carbs) or slowly (slow carbs). At the molecular level, all carbohydrates are chains of simple sugars. Consequently, if eaten regularly, fast carbs can keep blood sugar elevated, causing weight gain and an elevated risk of type 2 diabetes. Food with slow carbs (most vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, beans, peas) are considered to be the cornerstone of a healthy diet. There are easy ways to increase the amounts of low-carbs in your diet, switching from white to whole wheat bread or choosing a mix of brown rice and lentils instead of white rice for example.
Many people think that fats only cause health problems, in terms of weight gain and cholesterol level. This is not true. Fats are also essential to give our body energy, to support cell growth and to produce important hormones. The cycle of making, breaking, storing and mobilizing fats is at the core of how we regulate the energy we need. Rather than adopting a low-fat diet, it is more important to focus on eating more beneficial “good” fats and limiting harmful “bad” fats. You can find unhealthy fats, such as artificial trans fats and saturated fats, in baked goods, frozen pizza, fried foods (including French fries), butter, palm and coconut oil, cheese and red meal. Good fats come mainly from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish in products like salmon, avocado, olive and sunflower oil, walnut.
In the nutrition community there has always been a debate low-carb vs. low-fat diets. Scientific studies all point out that both diets lead to significant weight loss. However, each has their pros and cons which may depend on your lifestyle or your ability to sustain one or the other. For instance, low-fat is often associated with low-flavor. As for carbohydrates since these are the primary source of fuel for a workout a low-carb diet may not be the best choice if you are very sportive.
Exercise and diet work hand in hand. For training, and even more for competition, there are basic principles to be aware of. During an effort the body will first rely on the carbohydrates stored during the few days or hours before. If possible, it is recommended to eat two to three hours before a training session, and it shall include carbohydrates. Marathon runners generally start to eat large amount of pasta two to three days before a race. During workout the priority is not eating anymore but keeping your body hydrated with small, frequent sips of water. Finally following exercise fast carbs (such as bananas, biscuits, chips) are extremely beneficial. The rapid rise in blood sugar is critical for restoring glycogen (sugars stored for energy) in the muscles and liver.
When it comes to effectiveness of food habits, it is about health of course, but it is above all about sustainability. Good habits can only be maintained if they fit your way of life, your tastes and your inner motivation to feel better.
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