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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Healthy Living - Fuelling Your Body

Healthy Living - Fuelling Your Body


Today's post is from contributor - Natasha Gelder. ;Natasha is a full time Literature student based in Leeds who is juggling the quests for higher education, money and rock hard abs. She believes exercising is a vital part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle and should not be seen as a chore.

Over the last few weeks I have been writing articles focusing on exercise, this week, however, I am going to focus on nutrition and how to fuel your body properly in order to get the most from your work outs and just feel good in general. I don’t need to lecture you on how important diet is when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it is obvious.

If you want to lose weight then crash dieting is not the answer, yes you may lose weight initially but this will just be water weight and muscle mass that you are losing. You will hit a point where your body goes into starvation mode and as soon as you begin eating normally again you will regain any weight you have lost. Also, if your body is not taking in enough calories then you are not going to be able to get the maximum results from your workouts as you will tire easily from depleted energy levels. I like to think of the food I eat as fuel for my body. If you don’t put enough petrol in your car, you will run out and your car won’t work. This works on the same principle, if you don’t put enough food into your body, then it will not work to its full capacity. This is also the case with eating the wrong foods, if you are living off pizza and ice cream your body is not going to work as well as someone who is giving their body the correct nutrients. Reverting back to my car metaphor, if you drive a petrol car and fill it up with diesel, you are going to have a problem.

Low carbohydrate diets are proving popular for weight loss, with people shunning carbohydrates in favour of lower calorie foods. Skipping carbs is a bad idea, they are crucial for providing the body with energy and I would recommend eating them around an hour before a work out. The type of carbohydrate you choose to eat is important; wholemeal is key. Brown is best when it comes to bread, pasta and rice, these complex carbohydrates will fill you up and slowly release energy throughout the day, as will other foods rich in complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, quinoa and porridge.

Fresh fruit and vegetables should make up around half of your diet, most people say aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, I try to eat 7 or 8. I put blueberries and strawberries in my morning porridge, I follow that with a banana and then for my dinner I might have a grilled chicken salad with at least 3 portions of vegetables in. That is already 6 portions and I’m only 5 hours into my day. Stay on track by making a meal plan and sticking to it.

Avoid processed foods like the plague! They are nothing but plastic mush and are not what you should be eating. Yes they may taste good, but this is only because your body has become accustomed to the taste of salt, sugar and chemicals. Branded foods that offer low fat options are also usually high in salt, sugar and various chemicals that do not naturally occur in your body; if you read a list of ingredients on the back of your food and come across words that you don’t recognise then your body will not recognise them either.  Many of these ‘healthy’ ready meals are appealing because they are convenient when you are in a rush or do not feel like cooking. One way to get around this is by making a batch of something homemade, like turkey Bolognese, so you know exactly what is going into the food you are going to eat, and freeze portions of it to create your own healthy ready meals. Next time you are in a rush just cook some wholemeal pasta and defrost a portion of turkey Bolognese in the microwave; simple, quick and nutritious.

Natasha Gelder, full time Literature student based in Leeds who is juggling the quests for higher education, money and rock hard abs