What should I be Eating?
I admit it has been over a week since my last post, so I apologise, however, to make up for it here is a post that may change your life! (literally).
This post is on the ideal diet for both Athletes and the general public and how it can affect you, your sport, your ability to heal faster and your health. I am trying to keep this brief as this subject is vast and highly debated. I will only cover key points and handy interesting tips as we have all been told many times in the past to eat more fruit and veg and to avoid things we normally like, however, this is a brief summary of what is ideal. Be aware that some of these recommendations may not apply to people with certain diseases and it is worth mentioning any concerns or diet changes you’d like to make with your consultant.
1. The majority of the population eats a diet with completely the wrong balance of nutrients, vitamins and minerals along with an unhealthy balance of pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory foods. A pro-inflammatory food is one that contains Omega-6 fatty acids, an anti-inflammatory food is one that contains Omega-3 fatty acids. Pro to Anti- inflammatory food ratio should be 1:1, the ratio of the average United States diet is 25:1
(as an Englishman, may I state how similar our diets are to the US with studies showing recently that we have the most obese population of women in Europe and the second most obese population of men second only to Malta which is basically a mini England as it has so many ex-pats from our country. In my opinion our ratios should therefore be considered similar).
2. An unequal ratio of pro to anti-inflammatory foods can lead to slower recovery and healing rates and is linked with the increased chance of onset of a host of diseases, from Depression to various types of Arthritis.
3. Maintaining your current diet may be exacerbating a condition or injury that you currently have. (E.g an ongoing shoulder problem, back pain, menstrual irregularities, chronic disease)
4. By changing your diet now you may feel a difference within one or two weeks.
Now that I have covered the benefits of changing your diet, I will explain what is recommended:
1. Eliminating grains and unhealthy snacks: including bread (E.g Whole wheat bread pro- to anti-inflammatory ratio is 27:1!!) and Crisps (ratio 60:1).
2. Increase fruit and veg: Broccoli (ratio 1:3), Kale (ratio 1:1.3), Fish (ratio 1:1 to 1:7)
3. Increase Anti-oxidants/phytonutrients to battle inevitable free radicals as a result of our systemic processes: adding supplements of Vitamin D (1,000 IU), E, lipolic acid and Coenzyme Q10 to a diet rich in fruit and veg.
4. Increase Potassium intake (lost when dehydrated): Achieved with increased fruit and veg and decreased grains as already mentioned.
5. Consider taking daily supplements that are lacking in the modern diet: recommended are; Multivitamins, Magnesium (1000mg/day), omega-3/fish oil (1000mg/day), if older than 25 yrs take Coenzyme Q10 (100mg/day for 6 years has been found safe).
6. Try to achieve a Carbohydrate: Protein: Fat ratio of 40:20:40
7. Recommended fluids are water, red wine (disease dependent, i.e may exacerbate gout) and decaf green tea
8. Meats and protein recommended are those that are grass and not grain fed, including the chickens that lay the eggs! (the packaging must state grass fed as otherwise the product is highly like to be grain fed)
9. Recommended cooking oils are Organic extra virgin olive oil, butter, and coconut oil.
10. Recommended desserts include fruit with half or heavy cream (berries and cherries for example)
11. Eliminate foods containing refined sugars (sweets etc) to avoid diabetes and hyperinsulinemia (syndrome X).
11. Try to eat organic and stop smoking.
12. If you have suffered an injury from a sport then proteolytic enzymes are recommended: Bromelain daily 200-2000mg taken immediately after injury for no longer than a week.
This all sounds like a lot of work and a bit extreme, I tried it on myself for a couple of weeks to see how I felt and to see were potential hurdles occurred. I did notice a mild increase in energy (mainly because I realised just how tired I was when I stopped the diet after two weeks). My main hurdle was breakfast, as no grains means no bread or cereal (English staple breakfast). I ended up eating a large amount of eggs which did become rather sickly as I began to dislike the texture. I stopped after 2 weeks as I lost quite a bit of weight (not bad, but not intended). I am about to start again, the plan this time is that for breakfast I will be varying the way I cook my eggs and to
pre-prepare buy canned fruit and fruit salad for a change at breakfast time. I will also increase my portions of fruit and veg to avoid losing weight, I’ll let you know how I get on later next year.
If you are thinking negatively ‘I can’t be bothered’ then that is all the reason to try this out as it may very well provide you with a positive change, more energy and a better outlook on life. Maybe try just some of these things to see how you feel? Changes have been known to be felt after just one week, though if you are slowly changing your diet bit by bit then it may obviously take a bit longer. This diet is similar to what is known as an Anti-Inflammatory diet and has drawn similarities to the paleo-diet. Here is a guide on eating anti-inflammatory if you wish to read more The Deflaming Guidelines.
Personally I am looking forward to noticing a new positive change, I don’t care what it is, it’s Christmas and I like new things :-).
References: Hyde, T.E, Gegenbach, M.S (2007). Conservative management of sports injuries. 2nd ed. London: Jones and Bartlett. 1067-1092.