Here we are in the months after making all those New Year’s resolutions to work out more, eat better, organize better, etc. We have all (I know ALL of us are working hard on our exercise goals) started exercising on a regular basis for overall health, but also to contain that blood sugar beast that’s always ready to pounce when we least expect. But, have we thought of how to actually ensure we are getting all the right nutrients to fuel that work out? Did you know that specific nutrients are responsible for helping you in the pre, during and post workout mode? If not, you may be depriving your system of necessary nutrition that can keep you going, and help you run, bike, swim or stand in warrior pose for eternity.
The following are nutrients that have been shown to be particularly beneficial to women’s health – no matter what type of exercise you choose.
Flab fighter: Fiber
Studies have shown women who eat more fiber are more likely to have a trim waistline. Essentially, fiber keeps you feeling full longer after a meal, which helps you avoid those second helpings.
Shoot for 25 grams per day, with more benefit noted at upper recommendations of 30-40grams.
Good sources of fiber: Lentils, beans, vegetables, and whole grains. Many of these also are a great source of B Vitamins, which help your body with energy production so you can keep up with your workouts!
Bone Benefactor: Calcium
Women who work out (aerobic), and more specifically women runners, have the potential to have bone density that’s about 10% lower than normal. Weight training and resistance training can help build bone density, but we can also eat foods that increase our intake of Calcium.
Since calcium is absorbed better with a good source of Vitamin D, healthy intake of fatty fish can give you a little of both. Salmon is just one of these foods.
Good sources of calcium: Salmon, dairy products, greens, beans.
Salmon has the added benefit of omega-3 fatty acids, which also help with inflammation in the body – something everyone can do without!
Immunity Enhancers: Vitamin A and C, and healthy digestive flora (yes the digestive system is hard at work keeping you cold and flu free!)
Working out daily is beneficial in so many ways to women with diabetes, but the training can sometimes leave your immune system lacking.
Some research suggests women who work out should eat an active form of a pro-biotic daily – the easiest source is yogurt! High in protein and friendly bacteria that keeps your digestive system healthy. (Doubles for a great source of calcium too!)
Vitamin C is necessary for both immune health and for working athletes to maintain the structure for healthy bone, tendons and ligaments – keeping you cold/flu free with healthy joints to keep you moving.
Vitamin A is necessary for immune health, vision and skin health. Each of which is an important factor for working out to your highest potential.
Good sources of Vitamin A and C are: Greens (Kale), sweet potatoes, carrots and squash.
Strength Restoration: Carbohydrates and Protein
All of that working out requires a woman to refuel the working muscles to prepare them again for the next activity. Carbohydrates replete your muscle glycogen stores, while protein assists in the rebuilding of the muscle tissue.
Complex foods eaten post workout can help refuel and keep you going and going. The more unrefined these products, the faster the body is able to recover.
Good sources of carbohydrate and protein:
Quinoa – a complex grain high in fiber, carbohydrate and protein. Considered the most complete grain on earth.
Almond butter – not only high in fiber and protein, but also an excellent source of healthy fat, which aids joint health.
Grass-fed beef – high source of protein with less saturated fat, more omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E and a necessary energizer – iron!
Joint Mobilizers: Antioxidants
Exercise in any form requires healthy mobile joints. To help alleviate stiff or sore joints try eating some of the foods highest in antioxidant content (and vary your colors of fruits and vegetables as Lyndsay noted in last month’s Tip of the Month!)
Good sources of antioxidants: Foods deep red, blue or purple in color.
Pomegranate, tart cherries, blue berries, cranberries and red grapes.
Try the following recipe to add a little something from many of these categories to boost your work out potential:
Yogurt Parfait Recipe:
½ cup Greek Yogurt 2 Tbsp slivered roasted Almonds
½ cup wild blueberries or 2 Tbsp julienne carrots
unsweetened fresh cranberries
Directions: Place yogurt in cup and top with berries of choice. Sprinkle almonds slivers and carrots on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sweetener of choice.
Nutrition facts: Calories: 180, Protein -13g , Carbohydrate – 18g, Fat – 8g
(1 carbohydrate serving, 2 lean protein servings, 1 fat serving)