April 8, 2005
Fitness fans miscalculate their dietary needs so frequently that ACE came up with its list of the Top 10 Nutritional Mistakes Made by Active People. Dietitians offer suggestions on how to correct these diet errors and create a healthier eating plan.
1. EATING TOO MUCH PROTEIN AND NOT ENOUGH CARBOHYDRATES. The current popularity of low-carb diets has many people trying to fuel their workouts with poultry instead of pasta.
"Our muscles' endurance and performance comes from the glycogen in carbohydrates. You can't be an athlete and be on the Atkins diet," says Monica Callan, a certified personal trainer and Sharp Hospital registered dietitian.
A diet with too little carbs usually means a diet with too little water, and that can set you up for an increased risk of injury and dehydration.
2. SKIPPING BREAKFAST. Not eating breakfast is like asking your car to get you to work without any fuel in the tank.
"Whether or not you're an athlete, breakfast should be a non-negotiable part of the day," says Callan. "When you don't eat breakfast,
3. NOT EATING BEFORE A WORKOUT. "If you don't have the fuel, your workout won't be as productive," says Norma Flood, a registered dietitian and nutrition counselor at Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine.
A light pre-workout snack consisting of carbs, a little fat and some protein can help improve endurance and hand-eye coordination.
However, eating too much or the wrong kind of foods (too much fiber, fat or spice) will make you feel bloated, and indigestion could result. Flood recommends sticking to foods to give you quick but quality energy. A banana, toast with a dab of peanut butter, a half of a small bagel, a handful of almonds and an apple, or yogurt are all healthy options.
4. WAITING TOO LONG AFTER EXERCISE TO EAT. For optimal recovery, it's best to eat 30 minutes to two hours after exercise.
"As soon as exercise is over, your body goes into rebuilding mode," Flood says. "The best thing you can do is eat a small meal containing carbohydrates to replenish muscle glycogen stores and protein to facilitate the repair of muscle tissue."
Some nutritious post-workout eats include yogurt, a bowl of cereal, or a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread.
5. REPLACING MEALS WITH ENERGY BARS OR REPLACEMENT DRINKS. Sure, they're convenient, but too often energy bars offer little more nutrition than your average candy bar.
"Although energy bars are calorically dense, they're not giving you enough nutritional variety or fiber," Bland says. "For a lot of people, the energy bar has become a midday snack instead of meal replacement. And, that means overeating."
Always reach for real food first.
"There's just no substitute for the nutrients and benefits you get from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein," Callan says.
6. TRUSTING THE ACCURACY OF DIETARY SUPPLEMENT LABELS AND CLAIMS. "The FDA doesn't regulate any of the supplements so it's the Wild West out there in health food stores. Manufacturers can claim anything they want to about their products," Callan says. "Most of the time, you can get the desired effects from real food instead of pills."
However, if you think you want or need to take supplements, do your homework. Talk to your pharmacist and your doctor about any you're considering. Check out the following Web sites recommended by the American Dietetic Association: www.eatright.org; the American Botanical Council, www.herbal gram.org; consumerlab.com; American Pharmaceutical Association, www.aphanet.org
7. NOT CONSUMING THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF CALORIES FOR THE AMOUNT OF ACTIVITY YOU DO. Your calorie intake should be sufficient to support your active lifestyle, but not so abundant that weight control becomes a challenge.
"People feel that if they're exercising, they can add more calories. It's true you can add a few more, but not too many or you'll end up heavier than when you began working out," Flood says.
People who exercise, especially when just starting out, often overestimate how many calories they burn in a workout.
A 150-pound person burns approximately five calories per minute of medium intensity exercise. So on a 30-minute power walk, a person expends about 150 calories, equivalent to a can of Coke.
Check out the dietitian-recommended Web site www.caloriesperhour.com to help you figure out your energy burn.
8. BELIEVING THAT EXERCISE MEANS YOU CAN EAT WHATEVER YOU WANT. Whether you exercise a little or a lot, you still need to follow a healthy, balanced diet and watch your portion sizes.
Athletes who work out strenuously need more calories than the typical couch potato. But even active folks need to be discriminate about the source of those calories.
"Some athletes feel like they can eat doughnuts and french fries to get the calories they need," Flood says. "The problem is those refined foods don't have the vitamins and minerals they need. They're empty calories without the nutrients necessary to create efficient energy."
9. NOT DRINKING THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF FLUIDS. Dehydration can be a serious problem, especially during warm humid weather. Drinking fluids before, during and after exercise will help you a maintain adequate hydration levels.
Unless you're working out longer than 90 minutes, replenishing with water will be sufficient. For longer workouts, make sure you include drinks with electrolytes (such as Gatorade) to replace what you lose when you sweat. Electrolytes are what your cells use to carry electrical impulses to other cells. In addition to sports drinks, electrolytes are also found naturally in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
10. JUMPING ON THE LATEST DIET CRAZE IN SEARCH OF THAT ELUSIVE "EDGE." It's tempting to believe there is some magic formula out there that will dramatically improve our performance or help us effortlessly lose weight – if only we could find it.
"People looking for quick results try all kinds of fad diets and food crazes, which are impossible to stick with very long," Bland says. "To get long-term results, you need to make long-term changes in the way you eat. Fad diets just don't give you the right fuel for the long haul."
Posted by Lisa at April 8, 2005 3:03 PM
To send a trackback, use this url. If you know anything about this subject, please post a comment.