It seems like every day there is a new diet telling us what not to eat and a scientific article for reference, a nutrition expert, doctor or personal trainer touting a diet plan, a book, blog or website telling us what foods are destroying out heal and a food company excited to grab the market share by introducing a new “healthy” re-engineered processed food alternative which has the opportunity to be highly profitable. Whether it’s lack of confidence, common sense, passion or effort for healthy eating, much of our society relies on diet plans as the best way to lose weight or to improve health.
We all know why people struggle with food and body weight. It's not so much because people are eating too many vegetables, eating healthy fats and quality proteins, consuming grains like buckwheat, quinoa and wild rice and eating lentils and beans.
In defense of carbs, we know very plain and clear that added sugar, soda's, processed and fast food are to blame.
It’s quite the paradox but America is obsessed with eating healthy yet we are one very unhealthy nation.
We are obsessed with food yet the “off-limit” food list keeps growing every year.
However, the same dietary rules apply to you - you have to have healthy lifestyle habits, you can't overeat on carbohydrates (or calories for that matter), you need to eat mindfully, you need to meal plan ahead and on top of it all, you have to learn how to meet your metabolic needs before, during and after long workouts.
I can put many athletes into two categories - athletes who eat too much and athletes who don't eat enough. How do you know which category you fit in?
If you have or are experiencing any one of the following, there is a good chance your eating and fueling habits are not supporting your athletic lifestyle:
Hormonal dysfunction, poor bone health, stress fractures, decreased thyroid output, increased cortisol, impaired mood and cognitive functioning, suppressed immune function, muscle catabolism, anemia, dehydration, hypoglycemia, anxiety, chronic fatigue, interrupted sleep, inflammation, sudden loss of training motivation, preoccupation with food, eating disorder, nutrient deficiencies, unintentional weight gain or loss, hypoglycemia, chronic muscle cramps/weakness, kidney issues, adrenal fatigue, cardiovascular stress, respiratory issues, gastrointestinal disturbances, nausea, headaches, skeletal, tendon and ligament injuries, thinning hair and a decline in performance.
These issues do not happen because you are eating gluten, eating carbs or eating fat. These issues happen because you are putting too much training stress on your body and because of what you are or are not eating, your body lacks the necessary nutrients and efficient use of energy to support training demands.
If you don't know how to fuel and eat smart as an athlete, reach out to a sport RD to help you out in your journey.