Nutrition Series: Fuelling your Body for Optimal Functioning

 In Exercise and Health

Optimal Functioning

Whether you are operating a high-performance sports car built for speed, or a family SUV built for functionality – the fuel you put in the engine will directly impact how that vehicle runs. With a poor fuel choice, the engine risks breaking down, requires more frequent servicing and likely reduces the total life span of the engine. The human body, your vehicle, operates on the same theory. Fuel your body with good nutrition, and you are increasing your engine’s capability to run smoother, last longer and require less calls to RACQ.

Fuel your body with good nutrition, and you are increasing your engine’s capability to run smoother. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet

Consuming wholesome nutrition for the most of your diet, is imperative to all facets of your health, fitness, and performance. If we are looking for our physical best performance on the field, in the home, in the office or on the job site – we simply cannot overlook nutrition. Optimal nutrition choices are linked with better health for now and into the future as we age. Nutrition deficiencies (i.e. not consuming enough macro and micronutrients) and the over consumption of poor food choices, leads to a number of lifestyle diseases. Poor nutrition has been linked to a multitude of health conditions ranging from the less-severe to the life threatening, including (but certainly not limited to):

  • Impaired physical performance (decrements in energy availability – effecting even the most well-conditioned athletes)
  • Injury prevalence and prolonged rehabilitation time
  • Skin irritations, oral decay
  • Food intolerances
  • Hormonal irregularities (causing irregular menstrual cycles,
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Mental health and mood fluctuations
  • Fertility
  • Childhood development and growth
  • Bone mineral density (bone strength)
  • Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cancers
  • Overweight/Obesity

…and the list goes on.

So, we understand the vital importance of becoming more conscious of what we eat and drink, but where do we start? There is a wide array of nutrition/diet plans, programs and pills heavily marketed in all forms of media today. Unfortunately, a lot of the popular products and diets sold are not healthy, safe, or suitable for everyone. The market is littered with conflicting theories, opinions and advice from seemingly ‘health experts’.  To best navigate your way through and make optimal choices for your health; knowledge of the core fundamentals of nutrition and a healthy dose of scepticism and open-mindedness is recommended.

NUTRITION FUNDAMENTALS

RED FLAGS FOR UNHEALTHY/UNSAFE DIET PROGRAM

Optimal Functioning

KEY ITEMS TO A HEALTHY, SUSTAINABLE DIET

Optimal Functioning

VITAL CONSIDERATIONS WHEN CHAINING YOUR APPROACH TO YOUR DIET

Optimal Functioning

RECOMMENDED FOOD AMOUNT AND TYPE FOR MY BODY

Just as we are all unique, our nutritional requirements differ greatly due to our varying body types, energy requirements, genetics, and health history.

The most beneficial, safe, and effective diet program, ensuring long-term success MUST be led by you. Led by your personal food preferences, your hunger and appetite cues, your cultural beliefs, suit your financial status and your lifestyle. Learning how to ‘listen to your body’ will define how often you should eat and how much to eat.

Learning how to ‘listen to your body’ will define how often you should eat and how much to eat. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet

However, your body is designed to maintain your current body weight (even if it is larger or smaller than what is considered healthy) – therefore, if you are trying to lose or gain weight, your body will ‘protect’ itself and signal cues counter-intuitive to this (i.e. when weight loss begins you will think you crave calorie dense foods, etc.). Therefore, until we have learnt how to accurately ‘listen’ to these cues, this approach will not be sufficient. Following is a recommendation based on different body types.

Optimal Functioning

You are unable to know exactly how your body will respond in advance. Maintain flexible and learn to adjust your portions based on your hunger, feeling of fullness, physical activity level and progress towards your goal. Be patient and kind on your body. Remember that significant change takes time and consistency is key. Rather than focussing on a “quick-fix” mentality, shift your mindset to a lifestyle-fix. Key items to a healthy and sustainable diet for now and into the future includes; consumption of foods rich in vitamins and minerals that are as minimally processed as possible (plant and animal sources), adequate consumption of protein-rich foods and adequate hydration.

Stay tuned for a follow-up blog of where to find the best sources of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins), meal planning and preparation.

Ashlie Rainbow

Ashlie Rainbow
Exercise Physiologist

Featured in the Top 50 Physical Therapy Blog

 

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