Posted on January 13, 2012 in Fitness

Step Into Fitness (Part I)

Regardless of your age, do you find yourself joking around and saying, “I’m falling apart,” or “I’m not in the shape I used to be?” With all the business of family, job, hobbies, and commitments, how does one commit to a healthy lifestyle? That’s just it – desire and commitment. If you have the desire, then make the time for your health. Here are some easy steps to begin your fitness routine and be on the road to a healthy lifestyle.

Part I – FOOD – NUTRITION
Food is classified into three main groups: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Each is important and has multiple functions in your body.

1- Protein
Approximately 20% of your body weight is protein and 2/3 of a pound is replaced daily. One-fourth of the replaced protein comes from one’s diet.  Protein builds and repairs muscle damage, sustains the immune system, manufactures hormones and enzymes, replaces red blood cells that carry oxygen to muscles, and produces perhaps 10% of the energy needed for long or intense workouts.  It helps allow the body to use fat for fuel more efficiently.

Protein is not stored – it is used to meet immediate needs.  Excess protein is converted to carbs or fat.  If there is a deficit of protein in the body, muscle tissue begins to break down.

Food sources that are primarily protein:  meat, poultry, fish, eggs, soy, beans (have both carbs and proteins).

2- Fat
Fat is the most efficient source of energy. There are 9 calories in one gram of fat, whereas protein and carbs only have 4 calories each.

There are “good” fats and “bad” fats. 20-30 percent of your total daily calories from “good” fat is not harmful. “Good” fats are monounsaturated and Omega-3, which you can find in these oils: almond, avocado, hazelnut, macadamia, pecan, cashew, and olive. Also, these types of fats are found in the oils of tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Good fat helps to maintain a regular menstrual cycle in women, prevent colds and infections, assists in the manufacture of hormones (testosterone and estrogen), stimulates nerve and brain cells, and carries and absorbs vitamins A, D, E, & K. Low or nonfat dairy should be eaten in moderation. Avoid hydrogenated oils/fats and trans-fatty acids found mostly in packaged foods. Food sources that are primarily good fats: nuts, salmon, olive oil, avocado.

3- Carbs
When high carbohydrate meals or snacks are eaten, the pancreas releases insulin to regulate the blood sugar level. The insulin stays in the blood for about two hours. If more carbs are eaten within two or three hours, the increase in insulin prevents the body from utilizing stored fat, converting carbs and protein to body fat. Some carbs are rapidly digested – high on the glycemic index and will result in the negative aspect of high insulin as described above. Food sources that are primarily carbs: grains, breads, vegetables, fruits, pasta.

Knowledge of the types of foods you are eating and how they affect your body will help you make smarter food choices. Many times people don’t eat enough throughout the day to sustain energy, burn fat, and regulate body systems in an efficient way. The body automatically goes into starvation mode storing anything you eat as fat. Small, frequent meals and snacks are proven to be effective in maintaining a healthier diet than eating one or two large meals a day.

A good diet allows you to select a variety of foods from each group (proteins, carbs, and good fats) with every meal and snack. A good diet doesn’t have to be extreme. Remember, moderation in all categories, limit sugar and “bad” fats, and eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables with every meal and snack.

 

Read Part II : Fitness & Exercise

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